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Meeting demand for engineers could generate £27 billion/year for UK economy says new report

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EngineeringUK has released ‘The Engineering UK 2015 The State of Engineering’ report. This research indicates that filling the demand for new engineering jobs will contribute a further £27 billion/year to the UK economy from 2022. However, 182 000 people with engineering skills will be required each year over the next decade and at present there is an annual skills gap of 55 000 workers. Some of the key facts from the report are provided below.

  • The engineering sector contributed an estimated £455.6 billion of the UK's £1683 billion GDP in 2014.
  • Turnover from the engineering sector is approximately three times that generated by retail.
  • There will be an expected 2.56 million job openings in engineering companies up to 2022.
  • 48.3% of engineering enterprises said hard-to-fill vacancies meant delays in new products and services.
  • 53% of businesses expect difficulty in recruiting STEM-skilled staff in the next three years.
  • Only 36% of STEM teachers felt confident in giving engineering careers advice.
  • Women in England took up only 4.4% of engineering apprenticeships in 2011/12.
  • More women working in STEM could contribute an extra £2 billion to the economy.
  • £30 million has been pledged by the government to develop engineering skills in smaller companies and encourage more women into engineering.

The full report, as well as key engineering statistics and infographics, can be found here.

Comments and calls to action

EngineeringUK has called for collaborative action across government, engineering businesses, the education sector and the wider engineering community to realise the following recommendations:

  • Either a doubling of the number of engineering graduates or a 50% increase in the number of engineering and technology and other related STEM as well as non-STEM graduates who are known to enter engineering companies.
  • A doubling of the number of young people studying GCSE physics as part of triple sciences and a growth in the number of students studying physics A level (or equivalent) to equal that of maths. This must have a particular focus on increasing the take-up and progressing by girls.
  • A two-fold increase in the number of Advanced Apprenticeship achievements in engineering and manufacturing technology, construction planning and the built environment, and information and communications technologies.
  • Provision of careers inspiration for all 11 – 14 year olds. This should include opportunities for every child in that age bracket to have at least one engineering experience with an employer. This inspiration must highlight high value placed on STEM skills and promote the diversity of engineering careers available.
  • Support for teachers and careers advisors delivering careers information so that they understand the range of modern scientific, technological and engineering career paths, including vocational/technician roles.

“Engineering is a vital part of the UK economy, not just in terms of significant turnover but also with regards employment. For every new engineering role an additional two jobs are created in the economy. The engineering community is increasingly involved in a collective drive to inspire the next generation, who will ensure the continued growth and success of the industry in the UK. This collaborative work must continue if we are to come even close to realising engineering’s potential,” stated Paul Jackson, Chief Executive, EngineeringUK.

Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers called the report “a wake-up” call to government and industry, adding: “We must grasp the opportunity before it is too late. If we get it right we can boost the UK’s economy.”

Commenting on the report, Nigel Fine, Chief Executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “There has never been a better time to be an engineer: demand that far outstrips supply, rising salaries and fantastic career prospects are typical characteristics of the engineering profession today. Ensuring a pipeline of future engineering talent depends on stronger collaboration between employers and the educational system. We need to bridge the gap between expectations and achievement, in addition to up-skilling the existing workforce to meet demand.”

“Above all, we need to take action now – before it is too late. Otherwise we could find ourselves sleepwalking into a deepening skills crisis from which we may struggle to recover.”

Adapted from press releases by

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