Lack of diversity fuelling skills gap in engineering workforce

Yesterday the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) revealed the results of the twelfth Skills and Demand in Industry report, which divulged that the lack of diversity in the engineering and technical workforce could be fuelling the recruitment shortage.

With digital technologies and automation in the UK engineering and technology sectors set to advance rapidly over the next decade, nearly two thirds (61%) of the engineering and technical workforce consider the recruitment of engineering and technical staff with the right skills as a barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next three years due to the shortfall of engineers with the new skills needed to push these projects forward.

Three quarters of respondents agree that tackling the skills problem is fundamental to completing the proposed work from the Government but less than a third (30%) have firm plans to introduce or extend the use of digital technologies in the next three years.

85% of businesses who plan to increase digitisation of their processes accept that they must recruit people with new skills and up-skill their present staff, however, only 13% of companies surveyed have LGBT/BAME initiatives in place and only 15% are making efforts to attract and retain women in engineering and technical roles. According to Matchtech’s 2017 Voice of the Workforce report, over a third (36%) of engineers believe everyone employed within the industry is responsible for making sure the industry becomes more diverse and inclusive.

Tim Carling, Director of Engineering Technology at Matchtech, comments:

“The automotive sector is perhaps the most reliant on evolving engineering skills. Traditionally, we’ve supplied software and hardware engineers for body electronics and powertrain. In the past two or three years there’s been a significant move to application software and AI skills, and an increase in demand for radar, lidar and communications specialists as vehicle connectivity becomes key.”

“It’s a bright outlook for a vacancy heavy, skills-short market for those within the engineering industry to crossover their skills in a fast evolving sector but a diverse workforce is imperative to increase the numbers of engineers to fill these jobs.”

Work experience was voted as a solution to improve the supply chain but only 30% of employers who took the survey acknowledged that it is their responsibility to invest in training so it is clear that more still needs to be done by those within the industry to tackle the skills shortage.

Joanna Cox, IET Head of Policy, said:

“As the UK goes through a period of economic uncertainty, the skills shortage in engineering remains an ongoing concern for engineering companies in the UK.”

“Employers tell us that tackling this problem is fundamental to making the Government’s Industrial strategy viable. We must now bring businesses, academia and Government together and strengthen their working relationships to ensure that the next generation of talent has the right practical and technical skills to meet future demand. We are urging more businesses to provide more quality work experience opportunities for young people and more apprenticeships, enabling employees to earn while they learn and develop their work-readiness.”

“Engineering has the potential to make a huge contribution to increasing productivity in the UK. With many high value jobs being created through digitisation, we need more young people to see the exciting opportunities engineering presents. Businesses also need to widen their talent pool, and see the benefits that come from a more balanced and diverse workforce.”

To read the IET’s full article and for more results from the report, click here.

Browse our current engineering jobs here.

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