Whether it was the first hot air balloon launching in France in the 18th century or the development of jet engines to propel aircraft at higher altitudes – engineers and inventors have been inspired to reach new heights.
Here in Northern Ireland, we’ve played a significant part in the development of the aerospace industry and says Darren McVicker, Managing Consultant VickerStock Recruitment, we have the potential to do even more.
Since World War II and the innovations it spurred in the development of practical and efficient jet engines, the advancement of research and the resulting technology has made it possible for us to jet across the world in a way we never imagined.
The development of air travel alongside the contributions made in the design and manufacture of large aircraft wings; aircraft engines; helicopters and advanced systems including landing gear, fuel, mechanical, avionics and electrical power, means that the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors now makes up 20% of Northern Ireland’s annual exports.
In fact the companies operating in the aerospace and related industries generate an astonishing £1 billion in revenues annually.
But there is potential for so much more in this rapidly changing market, which is constantly presenting opportunities for ambitious and skilled companies and individuals.
We are already tapping into this global industry from here in Northern Ireland, with companies like Bombardier securing an order worth up to £650 million for its regional jets – parts of which are built in Belfast.
But with even the global aerospace composites market set to reach an estimated $10.3 billion according to industry analysts, you can see that it isn’t just the ‘big boys’ who can tap into a wealth of opportunities.
ADS Northern Ireland, the aerospace trade organisation representing some 61 companies operating in the sector, has worked with government departments to outline an ambitious plan to double our share of the aerospace market to £2billion.
This is ambitious and it is great to see the positivity of companies and individuals who understand how vital it is that we up our game and invest now to ensure the UK remains Europe’s number one aerospace manufacturer and second only to the US globally.
We need to build on our core industrial and manufacturing strengths, but also invest in developing the necessary skills of our engineers to place our companies at the forefront of the industry.
Engineers, both experienced and those just starting out in the industry, must seize the opportunities that aerospace, offer – a sector that outpaced the rest of the UK economy, growing by more than nine per cent in 2013 alone.
We already have high precision engineering expertise as well as the innovative thinking required to compete in this space – our record stands testament to this. But to ensure that the high value technologies, processes and of course jobs are created and remain in Northern Ireland we need to do more.
We must be innovative and respond quickly in the face of intensifying international competition and the rapid pace of change in the sector and our engineers, who already design, manufacture and assemble some of the most technologically complex and valuable parts of today’s airliners must work harder and smarter to enhance and add further value to the global supply chain.
Investment in research and development by companies, government and our engineers now will mean that we can generate the right skills and capabilities to not only meet demand, but allow our engineers to diversify and broaden our customer base globally.
The opportunities are in the billions, and we have the heritage and capabilities, but to stay ahead in the global race we need to make sure we are more than just ready for take off – we are going to jet ahead of the rest.
VickerStock, Northern Ireland’s leading specialist technical engineering recruitment agency, offer recruitment solutions and expert engineering advice to candidates and companies within the construction and civil engineering sector as well as a range of engineering sectors including; aerospace, manufacturing and production, supply chain, ICT, electronics and electrical, civils and infrastructure, utilities and renewables.
Based in Belfast, offering both permanent and contract employment with NI’s most sought after employers in the engineering sector, the organisation’s overall goal is to match highly skilled engineers with the specific demands of each individual organisation they represent.
For further information visit www.vickerstock.co.uk or telephone 028 9031 3720.