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.’