Following the most comprehensive Confidence Index that Matchtech has undertaken, engineers have reported a year of change in 2014 and highlighted there will be an increased number of opportunities in 2015.

The need to encourage more STEM graduates to look afresh at careers in UK engineering, coupled with enabling more engineers to transfer their skills to different sectors, will be key to maintaining the growth and recovery we are seeing across the industry.

The 2014 Confidence Index report summarises the views of more than 3,500 UK engineers as they look back over a 12-month period which has seen the economic recovery gather pace, unemployment continue to fall and living costs continue to rise.

Engineering remains one of the UK’s core industries, and the huge investment currently being made in transport and energy infrastructure, coupled with a revival of the construction and manufacturing industries, means the skills of engineers will continue to be in high demand. Conversely, while this will boost the UK economy, it will also add further pressure to the skills shortage.

In 2014 we have seen a ‘broad brush’ approach to dealing with the issue of skills shortages, with engineering firms increasingly looking to hire staff from other sectors, and a renewed focus on apprenticeships and vocational training. Employers are also looking to international candidates when home grown talent is not available.

The age profile of the UK engineering sector is highlighted in this report as the greatest challenge facing industry. As the workforce ages and retires, the need to supply a pipeline of talent, to encourage more STEM graduates, to promote apprenticeships and vocational training, and signpost routes into engineering careers is vital in meeting demand.

The Confidence Index also highlights a willingness of the workforce to transfer skills to different sectors of the industry and move geographically. Today’s engineers are more flexible and aware of overseas opportunities and motivated by more than simple financial gain. This should indicate to employers the steps they need to take in order to attract and retain talent. Engineers want fresh challenges and stimulating jobs, but they also want to have a better quality of life and to feel their careers are progressing positively.

With the UK economy at stake, engineers expect the Government elected in 2015 to continue to recognise the importance of the engineering industry by supporting efforts to rebalance the economy, and promoting training and STEM education. They want to see a collective industry and political movement to build solid foundations for the future success of engineering.

While engineers are focused on playing their role in the on-going recovery of their industry, they are not willing to be taken for granted. This is an industry which is increasingly aware of its commercial, political and personal power.

The Matchtech Confidence Index report provides the ‘voice of the engineer’ and the perceptions they hold. It is now down to the stakeholders who shape industry to listen and respond.

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