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Metalworking is a hugely varied career, with metalworkers working with a broad range of metals, from gold ornaments and silver jewellery, to steel girders, copper wiring and cast-iron fences. There are also in a number of other industries, including construction, manufacturing, energy, and even in the Armed Forces!
More academically-oriented roles include chemical, physical or process metallurgy; for these roles you will require an academic background in chemical engineering, physics, or engineering.
The metalworking industry in the UK involves 11, 100 companies, employs around 230, 000 people, and directly contributes £10.7bn to UK GDP. The majority of UK metalworking businesses are small, with an average of 21 employees. The steel industry is Britain’s largest single metalworking sector, with 600 businesses employing 32, 000 workers accounting for £1.6 billion in economic output in 2016. Historically the UK metalworking industry has been male-dominated, there are now organisations such as the Women’s Engineering Society and WISE which seek to offer support to women interested in engineering and metalworking.
Alongside the variety of roles in industry or materials, metalworkers can work in various functions within different industries. A metalworker might focus on welding, or precision tooling (using a variety of tools to precisely shape metals in order to produce parts for machinery), or designing bespoke metal products for individual customers.
Metalworking is a highly-safety conscious industry and for very good reason! Metalworkers will work with materials at very high temperatures (the melting-point of steel is over 1,300 degrees!), and will use large, powerful machines. Safety on site is an absolute priority for metalworkers, no matter how large or small the company or project they are working on. You may also find yourself working in a laboratory.