Work experience for students essential say engineering employers

2 min read

62% of engineering employers say graduates don’t have the right skills for today’s workplace, while 68% are concerned that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change, according to the 2016 Skills and Demand in Industry report, published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) today.

To address these growing concerns over skills gaps in the engineering workforce, particularly among graduates and school leavers, 91% of companies agreed that to improve the supply of engineers and technicians, more employers need to provide work experience for those in education or training.

Based on interviews with over 400 UK engineering employers the report highlights deep concerns about the engineering skills gap, diversity issues, the role of education and a lack of experienced engineering staff all come under the spotlight.

It also echoes the results of The Engineer’s Brexit recruitment report (published last week), with 40 per cent of those surveyed by the IET believing that their recruitment will be negatively impacted over the next four to five years following this summer’s referendum vote.

Commenting on the report Naomi Climer, IET President, said: “Demand for engineers is high but the report reveals deeper concern than ever around the skills and experience of our future workforce. As we are facing an engineering shortfall in the next decade, and some uncertainty around skills following Brexit, it is more important than ever that we develop the next generation of ‘home grown’ engineering and technology talent.

In response to some of the problems identified by the report, the IET is launching a new campaign: ‘Engineering Work Experience for All’ to champion the need for more employers and universities to collaborate to offer quality work experience to engineering students. The campaign is designed to rally employers, universities, Government and students to make a range of different, quality work experience opportunities more widespread.

The overwhelming majority of respondents to The Engineer’s recent poll (63.83 per cent) on the topic believe the work placements whilst studying will be the most effective way to ensure that the next generation of university graduates have the best possible chance to hit the ground running.

Key findings of the report include:

Education, employment and skills gaps

  • 52% of employers are currently seeking new engineering and technology recruits
  • 57% are currently, or have recently, experienced problems recruiting senior engineers with 5-10 years’ experience
  • 50% find that a typical new engineering and technology recruit does not meet their reasonable expectations

Engineering work experience

  • 76% of employers agree that compelling all engineering and technology companies to provide work experience would improve the pool of engineering talent
  • 53% don’t know how the apprentice levy can benefit their organisation

Diversity and inclusion

  • 9% of the UK engineering and technology workforce are female
  • 63% of businesses don’t have gender diversity initiatives in place (increased from 57% in 2015)
  • 73% don’t have LGBT or ethnic diversity initiatives in place
  • 40% of employers agree that their organisation could do more to recruit people from diverse backgrounds