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Annual UK ‘State of Nation’ report raises familiar skills fears in the Engineering sector

22/02/17 Ricky Wilcocks Manager, Electronics & Technology

The latest ‘State of the nation’ report from industry body Engineering UK paints a concerning picture over the UK’s ability to get to grips with its much-discussed engineering skills shortage.

According to the Engineering UK 2017 Report, industry is going to require 265,000 skilled entrants – including 186,000 engineers – every year through to 2024 to meet the ever-growing demand. However, the proportion of workers under the age of 25 continues to decrease, escalating uncertainties on whether the engineering industry will meet the demands. 

The report claims that the main area of concern remains with the supply of engineering graduates, which continues to decline falling short by approximately 20,000 engineering graduates per annum.

The report also warns that with the UK industry is currently highly dependent on engineering skills from the EU and other parts of the world, any post-Brexit tightening of immigration policy and reduction to the perceived attractiveness of working in the UK will have a further detrimental effect on the supply of key engineering skills.

Additionally, gender diversity concerns still remain. Boys are still far more likely to purse STEM subjects at A-level and continue studying engineering or technology subjects at university. The Government continue to help encourage more girls pursue STEM careers.

Despite a generally concerning picture, there is some positive findings however from the report:

The report presented that nine per cent more engineering and technology first degrees were obtained in 2014/2015 than the year before. What’s more, with the percentage of 11 – 16 year olds considering a career in engineering, up from 40 to 51 per cent in four years, there are promising signs that perceptions of a career in engineering are beginning to improve. This is reinforced by the report’s finding that 96% of teachers would recommend a career in engineering, whilst 75% of parents also view it positively.

Commenting in the foreword to the report, RAE president Professor Dame Anne Dowling and Engineering UK chairman Malcolm Brinded suggested recommendations aimed at improving the supply of engineering and technology skills to the UK’s industry. These include a greater focus on engineering within the curriculum and an international charm offensive that promotes the UK as welcoming and open for business. The foreword also calls on Government to make addressing the STEM skills gap a key plank of its industrial strategy.

Ricky Wilcocks, Engineering and R&D manager comments: “As the global economy continue to advance, the UK needs to prepare for a new recruitment future and engineering and technology will play a fundamental role in driving the economy and creating engineering jobs. It will be a competitive economy, with increasing demands for highly skills engineering jobs which leverage a strong ‘STEM’ (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) skills set.”

Ricky continues “We need to draw on engineering and technology talented candidates that already exist in the UK’s workforce. Engineering and Technical employers need to increase the skills of their existing employees, encourage training and improve retention rates. There is also opportunity to attract employees from other sectors, to encourage a more diverse range of people to consider switching careers, at any time during their working life, towards the engineering and technology sector.”

For more information on engineering and R&D jobs or to find out if you have experience and skills for a new career pathway into the engineering industry, please contact Ricky on 01582 878810 or email