Engineers are officially Britain’s fifth most trusted profession, but 1 in 2 engineering firms say a skills shortage is a threat to their business and 8 in 10 think they need to engage more with young people.
The engineering profession is trusted to tell the truth by 86 per cent of the population according to a national poll from Ipsos MORI, putting it joint with professors and closely following nurses, doctors, dentists and teachers. Yet despite their positive image, there remains a significant shortage of engineers in the UK.
According to a new report published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), 60 per cent of engineering firms rank finding workers with the right skills as their biggest barrier to success over the next three years.
The supply or quality of young people entering the industry is a particular concern for employers. To address this concern, 81 per cent of engineering firms agree that businesses have a responsibility to support the transition of young people from education and training into the workplace.
However, less than a quarter are acting on this by going into schools or careers events to help young people understand and value engineering careers.
Only 28 per cent of employers are aware that the new T Level qualifications require students to undertake work experience, despite 59 per cent saying they have capacity to offer it. In addition, just over one in ten engineering firms are taking or have taken any action to increase the diversity of their workforce, despite the large gender gap in the engineering sector.
Joanna Cox, Head of Policy at the IET, said:
“Companies are taking action to reduce the skills shortages and skill gaps, however there is a lot more to be done.
“There has been no progress in diversifying the engineering and technical workforce since 2017 and yet attracting under-represented groups will widen the pool of trained engineers and reduce skills shortages and gaps.
“We are urging more businesses to provide more quality work experience opportunities for young people to help with the rollout of T Levels and more apprenticeships, enabling employees to earn while they learn and develop their work-readiness.”