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Skills shortage concern

The engineering industry must recruit 587,000 skilled workers by 2017 to meet increased demand in areas such as green energy, aerospace and transport.

This is the finding of an annual report published today by EngineeringUK (formerly the Engineering Technology Board) that highlights concerns over the number of engineers being trained to meet demand.

According to the report, there has been a 30 per cent decrease in further education lecturers in engineering and manufacturing, alongside a 17 per cent drop this year in the number of higher-education students beginning production and manufacturing engineering degrees.

However, Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said that the future of the industry looked promising, with the average engineering salary increasing 2.2 per cent this year as perceptions of a career in the sector show signs of improvement.

‘With eight out of 10 people willing to recommend engineering careers to family and friends, we now have a real window of opportunity to persuade the wider world of the benefits and rewards they can bring,’ he added. ‘In order to do this however, we must first address a number of challenges, not least increasing the number of further education lecturers in engineering, as well as improving perceptions of engineering and manufacturing across the gender divide.’

To address the skills shortage, EngineeringUK has urged businesses, government and the education sector to work together in training the future workforce whilst ensuring that a broader pool of talent, particularly women, are recruited into engineering and manufacturing.

Speaking at the launch of the report, Sir Anthony Cleaver, chairman of EngineeringUK, said: ‘We want to get the message across that solving the major problems in the UK will only be done by engineers. But equally important is the message that we have the engineering capacity and the brains to be able to deliver that. If you believe it will only be delivered by others, then that is exactly what will happen.’

Readers' comments (52)

  • I truly do not understand these statements. I am a highly qualified engineer (Eur Ing, CEng, CITP, MIMechE, MBCS) with over 30 years experience. I speak fluent French and German, yet I have not been able to secure a job in engineering within the last 10 months? Do we therefore really need engineers here in the UK? I have sent out over 500 CV's / job applications but am just not seeing the demand!

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  • These 8 out of 10 people that were cited as recommending a career in engineering which sector where they from?
    Speaking as a Principle Engineer; the remuneration is poor when I compare my salary with the expectations of pseudo project managers etc.
    Until society realises the true value of engineering there will be scant interest from young people to do a menally challening occupation with very little reward.

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  • Have to agree that most Mechanical Engineering jobs are relatively badly paid, even in the big OEMs. Its a wonderfully interesting job but the renumeration and the respect is just not there. Is this the case for other disciplines not so closely related to manufacturing (and hence shop floor wage restraint)?

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  • 1st Anon - I'm in the same position as you, very qualified and experienced. I've come to terms that age is my problem, or lack of youth. I've since deleted all dates from my CV to see if that works. Unfortunatley the anti-ageist laws don't seem to be working unless you apply to B&Q and I'm not ready for that yet!

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  • Why don't we introduce some kind of sliding scale for degree tuition fees. Zero for Science and Engineering and maximum for what, in my day were refered to as 'Soft Option Courses'. This would surely encourage the student numbers and the lecturers, if paid on a similar but inverse scale.

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  • Similar to the individuals above, I had extreme difficulty securing an interview for senior engineering posts that were well within my capability. The major issue that requires addressing is "ageism". many thousands of years of combined knowledge and experience are being thrown on the scrap heap each year, due to inept unqualified search and selection personnel who consider one is past-it at 40 years of age.

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  • I can't see UK 'society' ever valuing Engineers properly. It never has and it is forever trapped in the class morasse with Engineers, whatever their qualifications or intellect, automatically and instinctively consigned to the lower orders of said 'classes'. What this country fails to recognise is that ONLY Engineers can drag this economy away from the non-value-adding banks into a position where it is actually able to withstand a recession of the sort currently being experienced because we actually make something which we can sell abroad. So you Engineers, don't get excited about a shortage of engineers being translated into 'reasonable' salaries and job opportunities - there is a shortage because colleges don't want us and society doesn't want us - we are a convenience. Despite being a "spanner juggler", I often keep 'artistic' company. Having charmed such company with my sparkling intellect in polite conversation, when the question arises as to my 'profession', said polite and artistic company can scarcely conceal their urge to vomit or scrub themselves clean when 'engineer' is mentioned - kindly pull the chain and wash your hands before leaving!

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  • The list of those people with whom Mr Jackson's remarks do not strike a chord seems to be getting longer; I add my name to it. Coming from a military background, where I admit commercial awareness may be limited, I have had little success sucuring a suitable role in the South West. I have applied for numerous positions and don't get any more than an emailled acknowledgement that my CV has been recieved let alone an interview. If anyone knows of a company who would welcome an application from an ex REME Warrant Officer with 22 years engineering experience in some the the world's toughest environments I'd like to know about it.

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  • I havev a son who graduated in July 2009 with a B Eng honours degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and cannot find employment.
    There doesn't appear to be a skills shortage in Scotland!

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  • I don't recognise the statements in this article. You talk about 2.2% rise while much of the engineering industry is working short time or suffering effective wage reductions. Many people in industry have lost their jobs or are living under the shadow of redundancy.
    You write that 8 of 10 people would recommend engineering to their family and friends; in a straw pole we think that it is closer to 2 in 10 with the rest actively encouraging their children to look elsewhere.
    Like the people commenting above, I'm well qualified and have a great deal of engineering experience in well known companies, however I am by far the worst paid of any of my none engineering friends, most of who are not as highly qualified.
    Unfortunately we live in a country that does not value engineering or manufacturing and is focused only on public services without any thought on how it will pay for them.
    In recent years the clear assumption of the Government was that the financial services in the city would compensate for the decline of British industry. Clearly this is now shown to be not the case. In truth it never was. We can't all be bankers and we don't all live in and around London.
    Its time that our Government actively supported and protected industry in this country rather than leaving it to the 'quick buck/ returns' merchants in the city.
    Finally what are our Engineering Institutions doing to protect British engineering jobs and elevating our profession to a level where it is respected and valued?

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