Perkins review calls government to action over engineering talent

Posted on 4 Nov 2013 by Callum Bentley

A major analysis of the talent pipeline in engineering will be published today to address the skills shortage within the industry.

Professor John Perkins, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is publishing the review; a call to action to government and the engineering community to inspire future engineering talent.

In response, the Government is making available nearly £49 million in funding for engineers.

The Review of Engineering Skills demonstrates what the government has done, what it is doing and what it plans to do to strengthen engineering skills in the UK. It sets out plans to work with partners in education and industry to improve the quantity and quality of education for engineering.

To address future skills shortages the government will today announce:

  • up to £30 million in funding in the new year for employers to bid for to address engineering skills shortages in sectors with specific needs
  • an £18 million investment in a new elite training facility at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in Coventry. This is part of the High Value Manufacturing Catapult, which works with companies from start-ups to the likes of Rolls Royce in developing innovation and next generation technology
  • £250,000 of seed funding to enable Tomorrow’s Engineers to accelerate the nationwide rollout of its employer engagement programme aimed at encouraging children in school to consider engineering careers
  • £40,000 to support the Daphne Jackson Trust to develop a new fellowship to support people returning to professional engineering jobs after a career break
    • a portal on the National Careers Service website matching businesses that want to promote engineering careers in schools with organisations who can deliver educational outreach activity

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “Engineering has a vital role to play in the future of UK Industry. It is important that we act now to ensure businesses have access to the skills they require to enable them to grow. We cannot do this alone so I am calling on employers and education professionals to get involved and inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Some of the challenges facing the engineering sector start when pupils are still at school and come back to choose subjects following GCSEs. Engineers must have a strong foundation in maths and science, especially physics. The number of young people choosing these subjects post-16 is relatively low, especially amongst women. The government is making changes that will impact this, including a redesign of the curriculum, teacher development and additional funding to support these changes.

Commenting on the Review, Professor John Perkins said: “I have highlighted the challenges currently faced by the engineering industry and the importance of all partners working together to attract future engineering talent in order to grow the UK economy. This review sets out government plans for the future and I would encourage employers, educators and professional bodies in the industry to take note and get involved.”

The government is calling on the industry to support the Perkins Review and understand what can be done to encourage more young people into engineering. This review has been published to coincide with the start of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week – a campaign to promote the benefits of a career in engineering to young people across the country, particularly to young women.