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Demand for engineers outstripping supply in the UK

World Cement,

The UK’s Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) has released its 9th annual Engineering and Technology: Skills and Demand in Industry Report. The report suggests that more than half of employers are recruiting engineering staff this year but that they are having problems filling those positions with the people they need. Some 59% of employers are worried that the skills shortage will have a negative impact on their businesses.

Only 6% of the workforce are female, a figure that has not grown significantly since 2008. Furthermore, the survey indicates that around 43% of companies are not taking specific action to address diversity issues.

Key figures:

  • 44% of engineering, IT and technical recruits do not meet employers’ skills expectations.
  • 53% of companies think that they should help change young people’s perceptions about engineering by becoming more involved with schools, colleges and universities.
  • 52% of firms expect to employ more apprentices in 4 – 5 years’ time.
  • The number of Intermediate Apprenticeships has more than doubled since 2013 but the number of Higher Apprenticeships has not increased.

“Demand for engineers in the UK remains high. Research from Engineering UK suggests we need to find 87 000 new engineers each year for the next decade, so now is the time to act,” said IET Chief Executive, Nigel Fine.

“Promoting engineering to women is particularly important given how few currently work as engineers, so it’s disappointing to see that so many employers are taking no real action to improve diversity. They need to take urgent steps to improve recruitment and retention of women, for example by promoting flexible and part time working, together with planned routes of progression that can accommodate career breaks,” added Fine. “There also needs to be deeper engagement between employers and the education system to produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving UK economy. Employers, educators, government and professional institutions like the IET need to focus on how best to inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians.”

The full report can be found here.

Update: The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) has responded to the report’s findings by calling on employers to ‘help maximise UK talent and ensure the nation remains a global innovator in technology and engineering’.

According to Alex Curling, Assistant director at UKCES, “These findings are worrying and highlight the need for employers to ensure they are working hand in hand with education and training providers to offer attractive jobs to skilled, talented young people. With such exponential growth in technology it is all too easy for vital technical skills to atrophy if they move away from the field, leaving people struggling to get back in to rapidly evolving industries. Finding ways of helping people who have become ‘locked out’ of the industry re-enter it could help address the skills shortages described in today’s report.”

Adapted from press release by

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