IET survey reveals low confidence in skills base

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A survey of 400 businesses has revealed that only 47 per cent believe the UK has the skills base to create a low-carbon economy and re-balance the manufacturing sector.

One in five employers reported that they struggled to recruit new engineering graduates. Looking forward, more engineers will be needed if Britain is to create a green economy with a vibrant manufacturing sector.

The results come to light as part of an annual skills survey conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Paul Davies, head of policy at the IET, said: ‘There is a significant lack of confidence among engineering employers that the UK can deliver on the government’s ambitions to transform our industrial base.

‘Two fifths of employers already struggle to recruit senior engineers. This is a stark warning that the UK will find it hard to take advantage of the demand for low-carbon technologies unless we see some big changes and attract a substantial generation of new engineers very soon.’

Davies added: ‘We need to ensure more training is available so that school leavers can develop the skills they need in a competitive jobs market.

‘Over the next five years a significant proportion of employers tell us that they will recruit even more apprentices. Despite the progress, more needs to be done to promote apprenticeships so that they are an appealing training option.’

An introduction of a cap on migration could worsen the situation, argues the IET. At present, 20 per cent of professional scientific jobs in the UK are filled by migrants. Without the right number of highly skilled migrants and without the right number of highly skilled graduates, employers could struggle to fill positions.

These sentiments were echoed in a separate statement issued today by the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). ICE warned that introducing a permanent cap could leave the UK struggling to deliver vital infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail, low-carbon energy generation and the nuclear new-build programme.