The Mechanical Industry: Jobs, Skills and Job Outlook
The Mechanical industry encompasses a range of professions connected with the design, installation, operation and maintenance of mechanical systems, machinery and equipment.
Mechanical industry professionals work with a variety of machines and equipment, including agricultural, construction, textiles and food processing machines, machines tools such as presses, turning lathes and mills, as well as forms of transport such as cars, motorcycles, trains, aircraft and ships.
The main branches of the Mechanical industry are:
- Light and heavy engineering - classification based on the size and weight of workpieces, which can range from small metal parts right through to large piece of machinery
- Precision machinery - specialist, precision machine tooling carried out to very high standards of quality
- Electromechanical machinery - electric motors, machines and devices
- Mechatronics - electronic devices, machines and equipment
The Mechanical industry encompasses all those professions involved in the production of machinery, including the design and planning of whole machine assemblies and individual components, the creation and testing of prototypes, the validation of production processes and the preparation of technical manuals.
It also includes the workers who install, assemble and mount machinery and equipment of various types and sizes, perform maintenance, identify failures and malfunctions and carry out the necessary repair work.
Also belonging to the Mechanical industry are workers who use industrial machinery and equipment, such as metal fabrication workers and operators of turning lathes, mills, presses and other machine tools.
Finally, the Mechanical industry also includes automotive sector professionals who perform work on vehicle (cars, motorcycles, vans and trucks) motors, bodywork, electrical systems and wheels to ensure their correct functioning.
What types of businesses operate in the Mechanical industry?
Job opportunities in the Mechanical industry arise in a range of different companies, including metal fabrication companies, factories, engineering workshops, auto body shops, mechatronics companies, mechanical installation and maintenance firms, automobile manufacturers and companies operating in the railway, marine and aviation industries.
Mechanical industry companies can vary significantly in size, from large production facilities run by multinationals, through to small engineering workshops with only a handful of employees.
Companies hiring in the Mechanical industry sector:
Mechanical Industry - Job Outlook
Job opportunities in the Mechanical industry are plentiful, especially in the industrial sector, which relies heavily on machinery and both traditional and automated (CNC) machine tools.
Machines are introduced into industrial processes to replace manual work and render those processes cheaper and more efficient. With the development of advanced machine control technology and software and the growing use of automation and industrial robots, the entire industrial sector is undergoing a revolution, with much repetitive, heavy dangerous work and precision machining increasingly being done by automated machinery. As a result, operator requirements now focus on the ability to program machines, adjust their settings and monitor operations, while there is a growing trend towards the recruitment of more skilled workers with technological skills and fewer manual labourers.
Design, installation and maintenance workers are also having to adapt to the technological changes underway, with electrical, electronic and IT skills increasingly becoming a prerequisite for anybody wishing to pursue a career in the Mechanical industry.
What skills are required in the Mechanical industry?
Although they all work with some form of machinery, the skills required by workers in the Mechanical industry tend to vary in accordance with their specific role. The knowledge and skills required by a designer of mechanical components, for example, are quite different from those of a worker responsible for mounting or carrying out maintenance on that same component.
There are, however, a number of transversal skills that all Mechanical industry workers require:
All mechanical industry professionals require some knowledge of how machinery works. However, the level of knowledge needed varies significantly according to the role. Industrial machine tool operators, for example, need to know how their machine tool functions so that they can operate it effectively and carry out repairs in the event of a minor failure, while the person who designed, built or assembled that same machine tool needs a much more extensive knowledge.
This difference is reflected in varying educational requirements: machine operators typically only require a technical or vocational diploma, while designers some form of university-level training, such as a degree in the Mechanical industry.
Designers of mechanical components, the machine tool operators that make them, the installation workers that mount or install them and the maintenance technicians that repair them, all refer in carrying out their work to mechanical drawings providing them with the information they need about a specific part - e.g. its function, form, size, machining specifications and material.
The ability to read a mechanical drawing (e.g. lines, symbols, and other standard information) is therefore an essential requirement for all mechanical industry professionals.
Analytical and problem-solving skills
The majority of workers in the Mechanical industry are called upon to solve problems during their work. It may be a question of a prototype that isn’t achieving the expected results, a piece of machinery that isn’t functioning as it should, a vehicle whose motor is malfunctioning or an industrial machinery that has broken down. Whatever the issue, mechanical industry professionals need the analytical skills that will allow them to identify its root cause using tests and diagnostics tools and come up with an effective solution.