IMechE calls for plan to address UK skills shortages
Large infrastructure projects such as nuclear new-build could be undermined by a lack of engineers, according to a report launched by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE).
The ‘Meeting the Challenge: Demand and Supply of Engineers in the UK’ report estimates that the UK needs 31,100 new graduate engineers every year for the next five years to meet industry demand in 2017.
Currently just 12,000 engineering students graduate annually.
Stephen Tetlow, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), said: ’A shortage of engineers would affect every person in Britain, potentially damaging the country’s vitally important manufacturing sector, energy and transport systems, as well as the UK’s global competitiveness.
‘Worryingly, we are not producing enough engineering graduates to meet forecast demand. Failure to attract more of the next generation into the profession could prove disastrous for the future of British engineering.’
The report also looks into the need to halt engineering graduates moving to non-engineering careers, such as finance and management. Between 40 per cent and 50 per cent of engineering graduates move into non-engineering careers.
The report concedes that there is little quantifiable evidence of an overall shortage of graduate engineers in the UK today, due partly to the current economic climate.
However, this situation will change without action as infrastructure projects, a planned increase in UK manufacturing as a share of GDP and the implementation of low-carbon energy plans all call for new engineers.
To meet this demand, the Institution calls for a government plan that unites industry, educators and the engineering profession in addressing engineering skills shortages.
IMechE is calling also on industry to invest in schemes that promote engineering in schools, and change work place culture to make it more attractive to young people.
Further initiatives involve the profession as a whole creating more flexible routes into engineering as an alternative to university; and an industry-led careers service that might attract more graduates into engineering occupations.