Engineering Skill Shortages - The Facts

 

Every year, the UK faces a shortfall of over 81,000 people with engineering skills in the workforce. To make the situation worse, alarge group of engineers in the UK nearing retirement age could constrain growth in the sector.

  • Six out of 10 engineering employers fear that a growing shortage of engineers will threaten their business in the UK, research has found.
  • 76 per cent of employers reported problems with recruiting senior engineers with five to 10 years' experience
  • 43 per cent of employers were not taking any specific action to improve workplace diversity

The problem is exacerbated by a perception among young people that manufacturing is an unsecure, badly-paid career choice, according to the Engineering the Future group.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about manufacturing among young people: that it is badly paid, has high redundancy rates and is dirty, physically demanding work," said Engineering the Future's report.

"The lack of career advice and the national curriculum losing modules in design and technology at secondary level will have a negative impact on future manufacturing," it said. Engineering graduates are "taught to pass exams" rather than being given useful skills, it added. It said the government ought to consider making the curriculum more relevant to "real world applications".

 

The report added that the changes should be taken soon, as experienced technical staff with 30 or more years behind them are nearing the ends of their careers "in large numbers".

The report added that the changes should be taken soon, as experienced technical staff with 30 or more years behind them are nearing the ends of their careers "in large numbers".

Prof Perkins's concerns about the UK's scientific and engineering prowess are nothing new. In fact, as a nation we've been worrying about the state of science and engineering for almost 200 years. In 1830, Charles Babbage, father of the computer - back then they were steam-powered - published his Reflections on the Decline of Science in England. He lamented that the UK, previously "eminently distinguished for its mechanical and manufacturing ingenuity," was in real danger of falling behind other nations. The reason? Its failure adequately to support science.

What is being done?

MPs should play a part in plugging the engineering skills gap by encouraging employers in their constituencies to work with schools to teach young people about the opportunities available, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). The need for at least 87,000 new engineers each year in the UK means that it is 'critical' that this shortage is addressed, the institution said.

Skills Minister, Nick Boles, said a £30 million fund had been launched for the purpose of increasing the supply of engineers. He acknowledged that: "a guaranteed supply of skilled engineers is essential if UK engineering is to compete on the world stage."

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