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Skills shortages highlighted in EngineeringUK report

01 February 2016

The engineering skills shortage is highlighted in EngineeringUK's latest state of the industry report, and it calls on the engineering community to act.

Engineering UK 2016 The State of Engineering analyses the engineering industry’s capacity for growth and details engineering in education, training and employment. Now in its eighteenth year, the report provides the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community, government, industry and the third sector with a compelling evidence base.

There are three overriding messages from the report. Firstly, that engineering and skilled engineers make a significant contribution to the UK economy and its productivity as well as working towards mitigating the grand global challenges of climate change, ageing populations, food, clean water and energy.

Secondly, that the UK at all levels of education does not have the current capacity or the required rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers and technicians by 2022.

Thirdly, through concerted and co-ordinated action, the engineering community and employers in particular can make a demonstrable difference by working with schools and colleges to inspiring future generations to pursue relevant qualifications and go on to careers in engineering.

Engineering is a vital part of the UK economy - engineering employers have the potential to generate an additional £27 billion per year from 2022. This is equivalent to the cost of building 1,800 secondary schools or 110 new hospitals.

If the UK is to benefit economically from this, we will need to meet the forecasted demand for 257,000 new vacancies in engineering enterprises in the same timescale. The importance of engineering is significant not only economically but also with regards to employment, as for every new engineering role an additional two jobs are created in the economy.

“This report is right to say that engineering is a sector that is driving growth in the UK economy, but this growth can only be maintained if we take urgent action to address the UK’s critical engineering skills shortage," comments Peter Finegold, Head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

“According to the report, we need to be producing 69,000 more engineers than we are currently producing every year just to meet industry demand. Without the development of these skills, the UK will be unable to complete the vital infrastructure projects in the transport and energy sectors the country so desperately needs. We need enough people with the right skills to be confident of the country’s economic growth.

“It is time that the country’s economic priorities are reflected in the education sector and that science and technology subjects are promoted to more than just the obvious candidates. We need to change the way engineering is promoted and make it more attractive to more students by championing the creative aspects of the discipline and the fundamental role engineers play in our society to sectors as diverse as healthcare, food production and conservation.

“We also need to do more to bridge links between schools and industry and ensure teachers are confident to present to young people the huge variety of careers an engineering education can lead to.”

A synopsis of the EngineeringUK report is available here. You will need to register at the EngineeringUK website in order to access the full report

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