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Report says UK economy needs 182,000 new recruits with engineering skills every year

13 January 2015

In the latest of its annual reports, The State of Engineering 2015, Engineering UK said that employers will need 1.82 million more staff with engineering skills in the coming decade. At an average of 182,000 a year, this means the UK faces a shortfall of 55,000 per year at technician level and above.

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At £1.17 trillion, engineering accounts for a quarter (24.9%) of UK turnover and the latest figures for annual growth in the sector were 6.7%, with turnover now 9% higher than at the start of the recession. CEBR figures show the sector contributed an estimated £455.6 billion (27.1%) of total UK GDP, with 5.4m people employed in engineering overall.

But the country needs even more. Filling the huge demand for new engineering jobs will generate an additional £27 billion per year from 2022 for the UK economy.

EngineeringUK chief executive Paul Jackson said: “Engineering is a vital part of the UK economy, not just in terms of significant turnover but also with regards to 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.”

The number of students in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) is increasing slowly, but the industry will need to double the number of engineering apprentices and graduates entering the industry if the employment shortfall is to be met.

little having changed to address skills gaps in the past 40 years. The good news is that, in joining forces to tackle the issue, we’re now starting to see real change.

Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to the report:

“This report shows the UK is facing a cliff-edge.  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.  We are about to surrender GDP.  It’s as simple as that.

“Engineers contribute over £1 trillion to the economy. That’s 4 times the retail sector.  Even more importantly, engineers are at the heart of nearly all of the country’s vital sectors: from transport and energy through to healthcare and construction.  They not only underpin the economy, they are vital to the very essentials of life: water, energy and food production. Engineers play critical roles in nearly all parts of society, not just the engineering ones we imagine. These vital sectors and all the opportunities for jobs, prosperity and growth are now dangerously at risk of failing.  Most are now reporting serious shortages of the skills they need to survive, let alone grow.  We need to be recruiting 182,000 people with engineering skills every year, but current levels are falling far short at just over 100,000 a year. And it’s been going on for years.

 “What this report makes clear is that we need a wholesale change in the way we value science and technology in schools and society. We can no longer rely on appealing just to the small proportion of people who are passionate about science technology engineering and maths subjects.  We need science and engineering to be brought to life in the school curriculum and resources prioritised so that we can start to plug the appalling gaps we face. We need to understand the fundamental role engineers make to just about every walk of life and to our health and well-being.  Resources need to be prioritised accordingly.  And it’s not just Government that needs to take action.  Employers of engineers need to welcome teachers, students and parents through their doors to show just what an exiting career can be had as an engineer.

“We must grasp the opportunity before it is too late.  If we get it right, we can not only save our economy from failure, but we can boost the UK’s economy by an additional £27 billion per year if we want to.  We must ensure we have the skills in place to make this happen.  If ever there was a wake-up call – this is it.”


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