Shortfall in engineering skills estimated to cost UK £27bn annually

Posted on 12 Jan 2015 by Jonny Williamson

Satisfying the nation’s demand for new engineering jobs is expected to generate an additional £27bn a year for the UK economy from 2022, the equivalent of building 1,800 schools or 110 hospitals, according to new research by EngineeringUK.

The report, Engineering UK 2015 The State of Engineering, analyses the engineering industry’s capacity and capability for growth and details engineering in education, training and employment.

The study shows that engineering accounts for a quarter (24.9%) of UK turnover – 9% higher than at the start of the recession. However, industry needs more engineers. Engineering companies will require 182,000 people a year with engineering skills in the decade to 2022, but there is a current annual shortfall of 55,000 skilled workers.

Paul Jackson, chief executive, EngineeringUK
Paul Jackson, chief executive, EngineeringUK.

Chief executive of EngineeringUK, Paul Jackson commented: “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 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.”

Director of emerging talent at engineering company Thales, Miranda Davies said: “Britain is great at engineering but this will not continue if we don’t address the massive shortage of skills.

“We need young people to understand our industry better, to see the range of careers available and to be excited by where engineering could take them. We support the call for collaborative action across Government, business, the education sector and the wider engineering community to address the shortage of engineering skills.”

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable
Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable.

Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills noted: “A strong British engineering sector is vital to the long term sustainability of our economic recovery, and increasing the supply of engineers is at the heart of this. In Government, we’re working hard to make sure we have the skills we need in 2022 and beyond, but we need to work with industry to make sure we inspire the engineers of tomorrow, today.”

On behalf of the engineering community, EngineeringUK makes the following calls for collaborative action across government, engineering businesses, the education sector and the wider engineering community to realise these recommendations:

• Either a doubling of the number of engineering graduates or a 50% increase in the number of engineering, technology and other related STEM, as well as non-STEM graduates who are known to enter engineering companies.
• A doubling of the number of young people studying GCSE physics as part of triple sciences and a growth in the number of students studying physics A level (or equivalent) to equal that of maths. This must have a particular focus on increasing the take-up and progressing by girls.
• A two-fold increase in the number of Advanced Apprenticeship achievements in engineering & manufacturing technology, construction planning & the built environment and information & communications technologies.
• Provision of careers inspiration for all 11-14 year olds. This should include opportunities for every child in that age bracket to have a t least one engineering experience with an employer. This inspiration must highlight high value placed on STEM skills and promote the diversity of engineering careers available.
• Support for teachers and careers advisors delivering careers information so that they understand the range of modern scientific, technological and engineering career paths, including vocational/technician roles.