In a survey of 250 engineering professionals, 37 per cent identified the skills deficit as having the biggest impact on their sector. Other prominent issues included automation (22 per cent), new materials (17 per cent) and data (10 per cent). According to some estimates, the shortage of STEM skills is costing UK businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training costs.
“Engineering companies in the UK are respected all over the world for their quality and innovation, but we need to ensure that as an industry we are recruiting the best and brightest minds into roles across the sector,” said Nigel Urquhart, senior technical analyst at MPA, which commissioned the research.
“STEM education and training support are vital for making sure the UK’s economy continues to thrive and will play a key part in ensuring the UK reaches the current government target of 2.4 per cent of GDP being spent on R&D by 2027.”
Alongside the skills challenges faced by UK engineering firms, MPA claims the sector is not taking full advantage of available financial opportunities, such as the government’s R&D tax credit scheme. Under the programme, companies can claim back up to 33p for every £1 spent on R&D activity.
“The UK is currently lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to innovation, research and development, and this could be because so many eligible companies are not utilising the financial support available,” said Urquhart.
“Initiatives like the R&D Tax Credit scheme allow businesses to free up vital funds that can be used to fund further innovation, which could help ensure UK engineering stays at the forefront of the industry.”