Inquiry to investigate need to grow engineering apprenticeships

With the engineering and manufacturing facing an acute skills shortage a newly launched inquiry is aiming to uncover the reasons behind a decline in engineering, manufacturing and technology apprenticeships seen over recent years in the UK.

Engineering-related apprenticeship starts in England are nine per cent lower than in 2014/15.
Engineering-related apprenticeship starts in England are nine per cent lower than in 2014/15. -

Launched by former Labour and Conservative ministers Lord Knight and Lord Willetts, with support from charity EngineeringUK, the inquiry ‘Fit for the future: growing and sustaining engineering and technology apprenticeships for young people’ is hoping to identify solutions which could help to increase the number and diversity of young people taking up apprenticeships in the sector.

Employers, training providers, young people and those who work with them, are all being urged to get involved in the ‘call for evidence’ by submitting their views, evidence or ideas to improve this much-needed career pathway into the sector.  

Despite a modest uptick in numbers last year, engineering-related apprenticeship starts in England are still nine per cent lower than in 2014/15. What’s more, the uptake varies by subject with a worrying 34 per cent decline for engineering and manufacturing technologies.

Lord Willetts, inquiry co-chair and former Conservative Minister for Universities and Science, said: “Apprenticeships, especially in engineering and technology, enjoy enormous political and media support and are a crucial route into work for many people. Meanwhile the number of young people actually doing these apprenticeships is falling.

“Our inquiry will draw on expert evidence to understand why this is happening and what can be done about it, so that we can grow and sustain the opportunities that apprenticeships offer to young people. I am delighted to be co-chairing this inquiry not least because my father ran the apprenticeship programme for a Midlands engineering firm.”

Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK said “Given the pressing need for more engineers and technicians in the UK, now and into the future, we urgently need more young people to start and complete apprenticeships in the sector. We therefore urge the sector, as well youth training providers and organisations, to show their support for this important inquiry by sharing their experiences and suggestions for how to make engineering-related apprenticeships more available and accessible to young people.”

The call for evidence, which is open until 27 February 2023, is seeking views on the importance of apprenticeships in terms of meeting future skills needs; the factors that are preventing businesses from taking on young people as apprentices; the barriers to access for young people; and ideas on what needs to change to remedy the current situation.  

For more information and to respond visit: