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UK engineering is ‘facing a cliff edge’

12 January, 2015

UK engineering companies need 182,000 people with engineering skills to enter the market every year until 2022 – but there is currently an annual shortfall of 55,000 – according to a new report from EngineeringUK, the independent organisation that promotes engineering in the UK. It says that if enough skilled people were available, engineering could generate an extra £27bn per year for the UK economy from 2022 –­ the equivalent of building 1,800 schools or 110 hospitals.

The report – Engineering UK 2015: The State of Engineering – shows that engineering already accounts for almost a quarter (24.9%) of UK turnover. This is 9% higher than it was at the start of the recession.

But the report calculates that the number of engineering apprentices and graduates entering the industry will need to double to meet projected employer demand.

“This report shows the UK is facing a cliff-edge,” warns Stephen Tetlow, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.  “It provides sobering statistics on the drastic shortage of engineers the UK faces. Every politician and policy-maker must understand the messages it is sending.

“It shows that unless we double the number of places for graduates and apprentices in our universities, colleges and training centres, not only will our vital industries and infrastructure fail, we will surrender any chance of future growth,” he adds. “We are about to surrender GDP. It’s as simple as that.”

The EngineeringUK report calls for:

• Either a doubling of the number of engineering graduates, or a 50% increase in the number of engineering and technology and related STEM and non-STEM graduates.

• A doubling of the number of young people studying GCSE physics and a growth in the number of students studying physics A level (or the equivalent) to equal that of maths. A particular focus is needed on increasing the take-up by girls.

Paul Jackson: engineering is vital to the economy

• A doubling in the number of Advanced Apprenticeships 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, including opportunities for every child to have at least one engineering experience with an employer.

• Support for teachers and careers advisors so that they understand the range of modern scientific, technological and engineering career paths, including vocational/technician roles.

EngineeringUK’s chief executive Paul Jackson, points out that “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,” he adds, “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.”

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