Engineers fear efforts to rebalance economy are failing

Posted on 20 Jan 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

A survey, conducted by Matchtech, of UK engineers reveals only 26% believe Government efforts to rebalance the economy towards industry and manufacturing are working.

Boosting training in engineering and apprenticeships should be a focus for 2015 party political manifestos if the UK is to maintain its industry-led recovery, according to a survey of more than 3,500 UK engineers compiled by recruiters Matchtech.

The latest Matchtech Confidence Index reveals that only 26% engineers believe Government actions to encourage engineering innovation and investment to rebalance the economy are working, while 41% believe they are having little impact.

Engineers are calling on the parties to focus on training and creating a new generation of talent to sustain the engineering recovery.

More than 41% of engineers involved in the research want to see greater investment in STEM apprenticeship schemes, with more than 26% wanting reduced university fees or greater financial support for those studying STEM subjects.

More than 26% want to see politicians setting out a clear energy infrastructure strategy for the UK, with 25% also wanting increased infrastructure investment as a foundation for future economic growth. 21% desire political manifestos committing to greater tax breaks and subsidies for organisations investing in engineering and industrial R&D.

Keith Lewis, Matchtech MD said: “While government efforts to drive growth through industry and infrastructure and rebalance the economy to enable a ‘March of the Makers’ are welcome, our survey shows many engineers believe more still needs to be done.

“While UK industrial and engineering businesses have shown good growth, momentum must be maintained if this vital sector is to prosper in the long term. At present the looming skills shortage and inadequate number of people choosing to train as engineers is a major worry and we urge all political parties to take bold steps to address this in their manifestos.

“Our survey shows that engineers want to see a strong focus on apprenticeship schemes. Indeed boosting apprenticeships and encouraging people to take STEM degrees will form an essential part of the long-term solution to building a strong engineering future for the UK.”

While engineers remain to be convinced that government calls to rebalance the economy towards industry is driving greater investment in engineering, direct public sector investment in infrastructure is felt to be delivering, with 46% of engineers saying infrastructure projects like Crossrail are elevating the reputation of UK engineering.