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Recruiting engineers proves 'difficult' for companies says the IET

21 July 2011

New research shows that nearly five out of ten companies are currently recruiting engineers but half of these are having difficulties in finding sufficiently skilled senior engineers. The survey, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), shows that 47 per cent of companies are currently recruiting engineering staff. Of these, almost half (48 per cent) are trying to recruit senior engineers with five to ten years’ experience but are having difficulty in doing so.

Paul Davies, Head of Policy at the IET said: “Our research clearly shows that there are opportunities out there for all engineers, particularly those with experience. There is also some demand for graduates, with a third of those recruiting reporting problems.
“Practical experience appears high on the list of graduate shortcomings and the IET has focussed strongly on ways of increasing practical skills amongst engineering graduates in recent years.  This effort has included professional registration for undergraduates who have completed a year’s work experience, as a means of helping employers distinguish those students who have already gained practical experience in the workplace.”

The survey also reveals the proportion of women in engineering roles has remained static since 2008 while the proportion of female technicians has also remained unchanged.  Only six per cent of engineers (5 per cent in 2008) and 3 per cent of technicians (5 per cent in 2008) are women.

Arlene McConnell, a Systems Engineer at Selex Galileo, is the IET’s “Young Woman Engineer of the Year”.  She said: “I know that there are various new initiatives in practice today which try to reverse this trend, from changing young womens' perception of engineering, to ensuring they receive balanced career advice and the right support from industry.

“However, I believe that the 'leaky pipeline' of women flowing into STEM is due to a lack of a single, coherent approach. This can only be achieved through consensus, discussion, and a unified voice. One this is done, we should start to see more and more young women investing their intellect and skills into engineering professions.”

Shadow minister for Innovation and Science, Chi Onwurah MP, who worked as an engineer before entering politics, said: “When I studied engineering 25 years ago, 12% of engineering students were women.  A quarter of a century later that figure has not changed, and that is one of the reasons why science and technology remains sidelined in our culture and in our economy. That has to change.

“To compete globally we need more engineers and scientists and we need to be drawing them from a larger pool.  I call on the Government to do more to encourage more girls into science and engineering, and improve the availability of quality STEM teaching.”


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