Engineering shortfall ‘will hit 270,000’ in a decade

More than a quarter of a million extra engineers are needed to keep pace with rising demand over the next decade.

More than a quarter of a million extra engineers are needed to keep pace with rising demand over the next decade, research for the Department for Education and Employment has revealed.

The research, by the Institute for Employment Research at the University of Warwick, shows advances in technology, and changes in industry and consumer demand will increase the number of engineering jobs from 449,000 to 564,000 by 2009.

If the large number of engineers approaching retirement is also taken into account, the number of extra engineers needed will rise to 270,000, according to the Engineering Council.

The 16,000 new engineering graduates each year will not meet demand, said Andrew Ramsey, director for engineers’ regulation at the Engineering Council.

‘This won’t be great news for employers, but it will be good news for engineers, and should help to improve the perception of the profession amongst young people.’ Salary rises should eventually increase the numbers coming into the profession, he added.

Existing skills shortages are already acting as a constraint on manufacturing output. The CBI’s latest quarterly industrial trends survey shows the impact of skills shortages on output is now at its highest level since 1990.

The latest figures from the Recruitment Confidence Index also reveal skills shortages are worsening in manufacturing. Of those manufacturers questioned, 81% said it was difficult to recruit both managers and professionals.

In a bid to encourage more young people into engineering, education and employment secretary David Blunkett this week set out plans to make vocational education as important a part of school life as academic study. He appealed to industry to back the new drive, which will allow 14 to 16-year-olds to undertake periods of work-based learning alongside vocational GCSEs.