UK’s lack of diversity in engineering fueling skills shortage

The UK’s lack of diversity in engineering and the technical workforce could be fueling the chronic recruitment shortage, according to a major new report published by the IET.

Diversity in Engineering - IET 2017 Skills Demand InfograhicNearly two thirds (61%) of the engineering and technical workforce consider the recruitment of engineering and technical staff with the right skills as a barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next three years.

Additionally, 75% agree that tackling the skills problem is fundamental to making the government’s Industrial Strategy viable. These are the findings of the 2017 Skills and Demand in Industry report, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) today.

The majority (87%) of companies surveyed do not have LGBT/BAME diversity initiatives in place and only 15% make particular efforts to attract and retain women in engineering and technical roles (beyond observing statutory equality requirements). Just over one in ten (11%) of the UK engineering and technical workforce is female.

To address these growing concerns over the skills gaps in the engineering workforce, 81% agree that more employers need to provide work experience to help improve the supply chain, but shockingly only 30% of all employers acknowledge that it is their responsibility to invest in the necessary training to meet the skills challenges posed by increased digitalisation and automation.

Encouragingly, 40% are proactive in offering engineering apprenticeships in their business, with around one-third (31%) counting at least one engineering or technical apprentice among their workforce at the time of the survey.

In response to the skills demand, the IET has launched Work Experience for All, a new campaign which brings together employers, universities, further education colleges and policy makers to collaborate on developing the quality of work experience and internships for those in education or training, to improve the supply of engineers and technicians coming into the industry.

Skills and Industrial Strategy

  • 61% consider the recruitment of engineering and technical staff with the right skills as a barrier to achieving business objectives over the next three years
  • 75% agree that tackling the skills problem is fundamental to making the government’s Industrial Strategy viable

Readiness for advanced automation

  • 75% of those that plan to introduce/increase the use of digital technologies need to develop new skills in their existing workforce
  • 30% have firm plans to introduce or extend their current use of digital technologies in the next three years

Job growth and skills supply

  • 39% reported an increase in their engineering and technical workforce over the past three years
  • 46% face difficulties in the availability of people in the external labour market with the right skills when they try to recruit
  • 51% expect to employ more engineering and technical staff over the next three years

Training and skills development

  • 31% currently count at least one engineering or technical apprentice among their workforce
  • 59% have arranged or funded technical or job-specific training for engineering or technical staff over the past 12 months

Work-readiness

  • 30% of all employers acknowledge that it is their responsibility to invest in the necessary training to meet the skills challenges posed by increased digitalisation and automation
  • 81% agree that more employers need to provide work experience for those in education or training to help improve the supply of engineers and technicians

Diversity in the workplace

  • 87% don’t have LGBT/BAME diversity initiatives in place (3% don’t know/refused)
  • 11% of the UK engineering and technical workforce is female
  • 15% make particular efforts to attract and retain women in engineering and technical roles (beyond observing statutory equality requirements) (4% don’t know/refused)