As the UK economy continues to adjust to the changing landscape of a post-COVID world, online job search trends are providing insight into which industries are thriving and which are struggling. According to a recent study from Sigma Recruitment, the engineering and manufacturing sectors have seen some of the most significant changes in job search volume over the past year.

The study looked at keyword search volumes for various engineering and manufacturing jobs, identifying the trending terms for the start of 2023 compared to its average monthly search volume. The results showed that while some sectors such as food manufacturing (+4%), life sciences (+9%) and aerospace (+11%) had seen increases in job searches, many other traditional engineering and manufacturing jobs had seen decreases. Jobs in chemical (-19%), electronics (-13%), medical devices (-12%), energy (-11%) and oil & gas (-8%) all saw decreased interest compared to average monthly search volume versus the past 12 months.

However, jobs in Chemical and Oil and gas still receive high amounts of average monthly search volume (both receive an estimated 1600 searches per month) despite the trends decreasing.

Rhys Williams, Managing Director of Sigma Recruitment who commissioned the study said “We are seeing a shift towards industries where sustainability and automation are the core of their business”. This trend is reflected in an increased search volume for jobs related to STEM (Science Technology Engineering Maths) (+19%) as well as power generation (+15%) and manufacturing (+18%). Rhys further added “where the trends in popular sectors such as chemical and oil and gas have trended downwards, in our experience they still remain popular and bouyant sectors for jobs. We are seeing more jobs requiring IT, data and analytical skills which may involve different type of online searches than traditional ‘chemical engineering jobs'”.

It appears that companies are increasingly looking for employees with skills that can help them adapt to new technologies such as AI, robotics or green energy solutions. An increased focus on sustainability has also meant that employers are looking for candidates with knowledge of renewable energy sources or sustainable materials production techniques.


Keyword Avg. Monthly Search Volume (UK) Trending %
jobs in chemical 1600 -19%
jobs in electronics 390 -13%
jobs in medical devices 480 -12%
jobs in energy 720 -11%
jobs in oil and gas 1,600 -8%
jobs in fmcg 480 -7%
jobs in automotive 1,300 2%
jobs in food manufacturing 720 4%
jobs in pharma 590 7%
jobs in engineering 6,600 9%
jobs in life sciences 590 9%
jobs in aerospace 480 11%
jobs in power generation 40 15%
jobs in manufacturing 880 18%
jobs in stem 1,000 19%

Table 1 – Average monthly search volume and % change in monthly search volume for 2023 compared to previous 12 months for jobs in sector keywords



Data, Analytical and Environmental Focused Job Types See’s Upturn in Search

Also, when researching into the types of jobs candidates were searching for, Keywords such as ‘chemical engineer jobs’ and ‘aerospace engineer jobs’ saw a decrease in search volume, while others like ‘big data engineer jobs’ experienced an increase.

The study revealed that ‘chemical engineer jobs’ had the highest decline in search volume at -19%, followed by ‘aerospace engineer jobs’ at -15%. Meanwhile, the biggest growth was seen in ‘petroleum engineer jobs’ with a 13% increase. Other roles experiencing an uptick in interest included ‘biomedical engineer jobs’ (6%), ‘environmental engineer jobs’ (5%) and ‘systems engineer jobs’ (4%).

Rhys Williams, states that “the findings from the type of jobs people are increasingly searching for further highlights roles opening up for people with data and analytical skill sets as well as a good understanding of sustainable practices.”

According to Sigma Recruitment, these changes could be attributed to numerous factors including advancements in technology, increasing environmental awareness and changes in societal demographics. Rhys added that “it is important now more than ever for companies across all industries to ensure they are keeping up-to-date with current job market trends to ensure they are hiring the right people for their business.”


Keyword Avg. Monthly Search Volume (UK) Trending %
chemical engineer jobs 1,600 -19%
aerospace engineer jobs 1,300 -15%
robotics engineer jobs 260 -8%
electrical engineer jobs 2,900 -7%
mechanical engineer jobs 3,600 -4%
nuclear engineer jobs 260 0%
civil engineer jobs 2,900 2%
systems engineer jobs 480 4%
environmental engineer jobs 390 5%
biomedical engineer jobs 880 6%
big data engineer jobs 70 9%
petroleum engineer jobs 320 13%

Table 2 – Average monthly search volume and % change in monthly search volume for 2023 compared to previous 12 months for job types keywords



Engineering and Manufacturing Sectors Needs to Get Better at Attracting High Calibre Graduates

With keyword searches for engineering internships and manufacturing internships remaining static, and science, engineering, manufacturing and STEM graduate jobs all decreasing in popularity, the sectors need to find new ways of attracting the right people.

According to the study commissioned by Sigma Recruitment, searching for ‘engineering apprenticeships’ has increased 18%, while ‘manufacturing apprenticeships’ have seen an impressive 50% rise in popularity. However, with searches for ‘engineering degree apprenticeships’ dropping 10%, and ‘manufacturing graduate jobs’ decreasing by 100%, organisations must think outside the box in order to attract graduates into their workforce.

“Attracting graduates is going to be key to organisations future proofing their workforce with the right skill sets. They bring a high level of IT skills and tend to be increasingly environmentally and sustainably aware.” says Rhys.


Keyword Search Volume (UK) Trending %
engineering internships 720 0%
engineering apprenticeships 9,900 18%
manufacturing internships 10 0%
manufacturing apprenticeships 140 50%
engineering degree apprenticeships 1,900 -10%
science graduate jobs 720 -14%
engineering graduate jobs 1,900 -3%
manufacturing graduate jobs 20 -100%
stem graduate jobs 320 -18%
graduate jobs 22,200 -3%

Table 2 – Average monthly search volume and % change in monthly search volume for 2023 compared to previous 12 months for graduate, apprenticeship and internship keywords


Organisations seeking out ambitious candidates should consider new strategies such as offering attractive salaries, flexible working hours or remote working options. Companies should also focus on creating engaging content that resonates with graduates looking for their next career move. This could include showcasing inspiring stories of current employees or highlighting the values of your business that set it apart from competitors.

It is clear that businesses across the UK engineering and manufacturing sectors need to adapt quickly if they are going remain competitive in today’s job market. By understanding what students are looking for in terms of opportunities, companies can give themselves the best chance at securing top talent for their organisation.

With this new insight into job search trends, businesses have been encouraged to consider how they can better target potential candidates.

These trends suggest major changes occurring within the UK’s engineering and manufacturing sectors. Companies must now prioritise hiring individuals with specific skillsets if they want to stay competitive in this rapidly changing environment.

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