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Engineering employers predict education system won’t keep up with technological change

Published: 28 October 2015 - Lisa Peake

Demand for engineers continues to rise but over half (53%) of employers are struggling to recruit suitably skilled staff, says the 2015 Skills & Demand in Industry report. Published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the report reveals that 61% of employers are least satisfied with skills among graduates – and that two thirds (66%) are concerned that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change.

The report also highlights that while over half (53%) of employers say they are recruiting engineering staff this year, 64% claim a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business.

This is the tenth year that the IET has published its skills report and the role of education comes under the spotlight, together with ongoing diversity issues in engineering and a lack of both available graduates and more experienced engineering staff.

Women account for only 9% of the UK engineering workforce – and yet 57% of employers do not have gender diversity initiatives in place.

Other findings include:

  • 69% of employers recruiting graduates report a lack of available graduates
  • 68% are having most difficulty recruiting senior engineers with five to ten years’ experience
  • 75% do not have LGBT/ ethnic diversity initiatives in place
  • 53% feel that Government initiatives for recruiting apprentices are not straightforward
  • 94% recognise they have a responsibility to support employee transition to the workplace

Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive, said: “Demand for engineers in the UK remains high, with supply unable to keep pace – and employers continuing to highlight skills shortages as a major concern.

“Stronger and deeper collaboration between employers and academic institutions is needed to agree practical steps to ensure that young people are suitably prepared both academically and practically before they start work. Supporting and encouraging teachers and academics to spend time in industry – and employers to visit schools, colleges and universities – would also be hugely beneficial.

“Employers also need to recognise the need for workforce diversity and do more to attract recruits from a wider talent pool. This might include looking at other professions, such as medicine and accountancy that have been more successful at attracting a diverse workforce. It also means working with parents and teachers to promote engineering as a creative, rewarding and exciting profession for girls, as well as boys.” 

Source: Process & Control

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