Engineers: the UK needs you!

265,000 of you each year until 2024, to be precise. That’s how many new employees engineering companies in the UK need to meet the demands of their business, according to estimates from EngineeringUK.

The engineering skills gap is well documented and it’s not going away. There is a lack of graduates entering the industry and a huge amount of the workforce is retiring or reaching retirement age, leaving big gaps of knowledge, experience and manpower behind. Our Voice of the Workforce research highlights this, with 69% of the 2,500 engineering professionals we surveyed saying there was a skills shortage in the sector they work in. This figure was even higher for those who work in the aerospace, utilities and water & environment sectors where up to 84% acknowledged the skills gap as a problem.

So what are the solutions? How can the UK engineering industry fulfil its potential?

One answer is to promote engineering as a career choice to younger generations – this was seen as the most important factor to those surveyed in our research. But of course, this is a long-term strategy. In the meantime, engineering employers can focus on retraining their existing engineering talent, which is something that Verity Davidge, Head of Education & Skills at EEF (the manufacturer’s organisation) believes is crucial:

“We need to make sure that we are continuing to upskill and reskill. It’s those more experienced roles that we need to fill. You are not going to get that immediately from the apprentices and graduates that you are recruiting today.”

She also iterated the need for employers to be more open-minded in their recruitment strategies, saying that companies need to be “creative” by looking to other sectors and industries for people with transferable skills. And we know from our Voice of the Workforce research that engineering professionals are willing to move into a different skill set (56% said they would) or a different sector (65% said they would).

Whilst the government and industry work together to combat the skills gap, engineers with niche skills remain in demand and can also play a part in promoting the profession.

Find out more about solutions to the skills gap in this Professional Engineering article.

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