I think it's safe to say that there is so much going on in the engineering world at the moment that nobody can really speculate with any confidence about how it will all work out. In an ideal world, Project Faraday will generate sufficient numbers of suitably trained engineering personnel to keep the fleet at sea (we used to be called Artificers). I would like to think that the engineering ratings of the future will have the same standard of training and mentoring that we received but only time will tell....
Totally agree that the clock will never be turned fully back and WSMI has been the biggest nail in the coffin for on-job training of engineering SRs. It is a woeful story for anybody who remembers the halcyon days of FMG / CFM.
However, the shambolic mis-management of the branch over the past 10 years or so is now being acknowledged. The intention appears to be (unofficially of course) to return to the artificer model as far as possible. All ridiculous suggestions of combining ME & WE have been shelved and we are returning to ML and EL streams in the ME world. There is going to be some journey mans time factored in post-ADQUALs and I have heard talk of the possible re-invention of small, mobile repair units being established. All remains to be seen of course, but I think the intent is there.
So to answer the initial question at the top of the thread, for people joining up now, life as an engineer will hopefully improve in time (at least from a training perspective). The biggest problem that the navy faces is keeping itself going for the next 5 years in my opinion because it's not just engineers that are in short supply.
And QE will be crewing up before long..................!