More Engineers are Essential to Sustaining UK Economic Growth

Keith Lewis, Matchech’s COO, warns that the issue of the engineering skills shortage in the UK must be addressed by government as well as the industry, as failure to tackle it will create a structural weakness that limits Britain's ability to continue grow in.

He shares his thoughts on this critical issue in his latest Huffington Post blog, “More Engineers are Essential to Sustaining UK Economic Growth.”

In the blog, he explains that even though the recovery in the UK job market continues at a pace with 5.8% unemployment, the lowest level for more than six years, there is still growing pressure on businesses to find and place candidates quickly enough to support the increased demand. For example, the engineering sector, which is worth £1.06 trillion to the UK economy, is suffering acute pressure to fill roles as the Government invests in new infrastructure projects and seeks to boost UK manufacturing. Finding the talent to deliver the growing pipeline of work is becoming increasingly challenging and new solutions need to be sought as the UK faces a significant engineering skills gap.

Matchtech’s latest Confidence Index, which surveyed over 3,500 UK engineers shows that a significant industry skills shortage is recognised, with 95% of engineers surveyed identifying this as a major challenge. Indeed, near full employment compounds this issue and an ageing engineering labour force (identified as the greatest issue facing the sector by the engineers we questioned) means there is a loss of experienced staff at the top end of the industry.

Our Confidence Index also shows what engineers would like to see party manifestos focusing on. Interestingly apprenticeships received more attention than higher education. Around two fifths (41% of engineers) want to see greater investment in apprenticeship schemes for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) and more than a quarter (26%) want reduced university fees or greater financial support for those studying STEM subjects.

More than a quarter (26%) want to see politicians setting out a clear energy infrastructure strategy for the UK, with 25% also wanting increased infrastructure investment as a foundation for future economic growth. A fifth (21%) want to see political manifestos committing to greater tax breaks and subsidies for organisations investing in engineering and industrial R&D.

While Government efforts to rebalance the economy towards manufacturing and drive growth through investing in infrastructure projects are welcome, more still needs to be done to sustain a workforce that can deliver them.

You can read the full article on the Huffington Post here.

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