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Engineers needed urgently...

02 May 2012

One issue that keeps being raised at the UK company and industry events I attend is the shortage of qualified engineers to take over from the cohort currently going into retirement. And this at a time when a number of large-scale engineering projects including High Speed Rail and the scaling up of UK nuclear power are on the horizon.

At the end of last year, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said these and other projects could be “fatally undermined by a dangerous shortfall in engineering graduates”, and estimated the UK needed 31,100 new graduate engineers every year for the next five years to meet industry demand in 2017. Currently just 12,000 engineering students graduate annually.

Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: "A shortage of engineers would affect every person in Britain, potentially damaging the country's vitally important manufacturing sector, energy and transport systems, as well as the UK's global competitiveness.”

To meet this demand, the Institution called for a number of urgent measures, including a clear Government plan that can unite industry, educators and the engineering profession in addressing engineering skills shortages, as well as initiatives from industry to invest in schemes that promote engineering in schools.

This is a particularly acute problem in the regulatory and safety sector, where widespread staff shortages may well lead to well-qualified personnel being attracted into higher-paying positions on these new projects.

This is an issue that needs addressing urgently if we are not to face not only widespread skills gaps within industry, but also destabilising holes in regulatory oversight at a time when it has never been more necessary.


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