Engineering employers predict education system will struggle with technological change

iet logoDemand for engineers continues to rise but over half (53 per cent) of employers are struggling to recruit suitably skilled staff, says the 2015 Skills & Demand in Industry report.

Published today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the report reveals that 61 per cent of employers are least satisfied with skills among graduates – and that two thirds (66 per cent) are concerned that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change.

The report also highlights that while over half (53 per cent) of employers say they are recruiting engineering staff this year, 64 per cent claim a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business.

This is the tenth year that the IET has published its skills report and the role of education comes under the spotlight, together with ongoing diversity issues in engineering and a lack of both available graduates and more experienced engineering staff.

Women account for only nine per cent of the UK engineering workforce – and yet 57 per cent of employers do not have gender diversity initiatives in place.

Nigel Fine, IET chief executive, said: “Demand for engineers in the UK remains high, with supply unable to keep pace – and employers continuing to highlight skills shortages as a major concern.

“Stronger and deeper collaboration between employers and academic institutions is needed to agree practical steps to ensure that young people are suitably prepared both academically and practically before they start work. Supporting and encouraging teachers and academics to spend time in industry – and employers to visit schools, colleges and universities – would also be hugely beneficial.

“Employers also need to recognise the need for workforce diversity and do more to attract recruits from a wider talent pool. This might include looking at other professions, such as medicine and accountancy that have been more successful at attracting a diverse workforce. It also means working with parents and teachers to promote engineering as a creative, rewarding and exciting profession for girls, as well as boys.”

Engineer employer, Sheila Brown, director at South Midlands Communications, a specialist in radio, broadcast and communications products, added: “A whole generation has focused too much on the service industry instead of manufacturing, and now productivity, which has led to a gap that the next generation of school leavers need to fill.”