Engineering safety at risk from skills shortage, says report 

A major report from new international body Engineering X has found that engineering safety is under threat from the global skills shortage across the sector. 

engineering safety
(Credit:Harry Parvin)

Commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering and Lloyd’s Register Foundation to launch the new organisation, the Global Engineering Capability Review measured the abilities of 99 countries to conduct key engineering activities in a safe and innovative way. It found that nations around the world were struggling not just with the quantity of skills available in terms of numbers in the engineering workforce, but also with the quality of skills being delivered. 

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The report, which was conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, looked at six measures of engineering capability: the strength and sophistication of a country’s engineering industry, the availability and diversity of its engineering labour force, its knowledge base, built and digital infrastructure and safety standards. Of the 99 countries, the UK features in the top ten of just two categories — knowledge and safety standards. By contrast, Singapore is in the top ten in five out of the six categories. According to Professor Peter Goodhew from Engineering X, addressing the issues outlined in the report is a complex challenge.   

“There is no one-size-fits-all approach and countries struggle to address all the factors that can contribute to engineering strength and to develop a pipeline of engineering talent that will match their growing and diverse needs,” he said. 

“Engineering X has ambitious goals to help. We hope the Global Engineering Capability Review will help countries to learn from the achievements of others and to benchmark their progress towards remedying natural, economic and social problems in a safe and sustainable way.”

Engineering X was launched to coincide with the celebration of the first ever UN World Engineering Day for sustainable development. The new international organisation is aiming to bring together partners from around the world, building on a network of global alliances to tackle the most pressing engineering, safety and sustainability problems. As launch partners, the RAEng and Lloyds Register Foundation commissioned the study to highlight how engineering practice can improve and continue to play a major role in solving the world’s biggest challenges. 

“Engineers in countries around the world can support human livelihood and dignity, the improvement of systems and the avoidance of harm,” said Professor Richard Clegg, chief executive of Lloyd’s Register Foundation.

“But they can only do so if these same countries understand their own engineering strengths, address their weaknesses and acknowledge where there are new and emerging safety challenges to be overcome. Many of these safety challenges cannot be tackled by working alone. We are partnering with the Academy because they can help us build coalitions with willing partners all around the world.”