Stephen Tetlow MBE, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, responds to today’s report from EngineeringUK, The State of Engineering 2015, which says satisfying the nation’s demand for new engineering jobs will generate an additional £27bn a year for the UK economy from 2022.
Chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Stephen Tetlow MBE, commented: “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 four-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 exciting 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.”