UK engineers fear for the future of flood risk skills

In a recent survey of over 830 UK professional engineers and employers, flood risk engineering was identified as having the biggest shortfall in skills in the water industry.

The 2016 Water and Environment Skill Shortage research, produced by Matchtech and the CIWEM (Chartered Institution for Water and Environmental Management), also found that engineers see flood risk engineering experiencing the highest skills shortage in 5-10 years.

Uncovering the impact of this skills shortage, the survey found that 81% of employers have seen increased employee turnover and 70% said that it has resulted in a reduced ability to finish projects.

CIWEM managing director Shirel Stedman said: “It is clear from these results that engineers and employers in the water industry are fearful for the future of our sector. Extreme weather and rising sea levels, related to climate change, are likely to increase the risk of flooding and it is vital that we address the current skills gap within the UK.”

Training and collaboration with universities was cited by both engineers and employers as a key solution to help fill the skills gap, while 52% of employers believed that skilled workers should be sourced from overseas.

Furthermore, those surveyed suggested that skills from the energy, maritime and highways industries are transferrable to the water and environment sector.

These issues will be discussed at an upcoming roundtable discussion, hosted by CIWEM and Matchtech.

Stuart Minchin, Divisional Manager for Water & Environment at Matchtech, said: “The survey results highlight the need for industry leaders to come together and find a solution to this skills gap crisis. At the roundtable event, we hope to initiate a campaign and present a unified stance to government, who must take note of this important issue and help the industry resolve it.”

The roundtable event will take place at CIWEM’s head office in London on Wednesday 25 May, with attendees from CIWEM, OFWAT, Southern Water, Anglian Water, Atkins, Thames Tideway and Matchtech.

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