The report states that engineering is 68% more productive than the retail and wholesale sector, with apprentices making a significant contribution. For every new job in engineering, two more are created outside of the sector and every £1 GVA generated in engineering generates £1.45 elsewhere. However, the gap between supply and demand for people with engineering skills is still large enough to trigger widespread concern for the long term future.
Peter Finegold, head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “This report is right to say that engineering is a sector that is driving growth in the UK economy, but this growth can only be maintained if we take urgent action to address the UK’s critical engineering skills shortage.”
Over 27% of total UK GDP is generated by engineering, amounting to £445.6billion and turnover for engineering has grown by 3.4% to £1.21trillion. Employment in engineering has grown to over 5.5million and the industry now supports 14.5m jobs overall.
Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said: “Engineering is a growth industry that has the potential to continue to drive productivity in the UK. This is a great opportunity, tempered only by concern about the need to train many more engineers if we are not to be left behind by countries like South Korea and Germany.”
Nick Boles MP, Minister of State for Skills, says: “These shortages are compounded by insufficient numbers of young people, especially girls, choosing a career in engineering. I am convinced we will only overcome these challenges if all those with an interest in UK engineering commit to greater collaboration and partnership.’
Through the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme the engineering community is working to inspire the next generation of engineers by helping young people from all backgrounds understand the variety, excitement and opportunities presented by a career in engineering.
EngineeringUK is calling for collaborative action across government, engineering businesses, the education sector and the wider engineering community to double the number of young people studying GCSE physics as part of triple sciences.
It also wants to see a two-fold increase in the number of Advanced Apprenticeship achievements, better provision of careers advice, better support for teachers and careers advisors delivering careers information and either a doubling of the number of engineering graduates or a 50% increase in the number of engineering and technology and other related STEM as well as non-STEM graduates who are known to enter engineering companies.
A view echoed by Finegold: “We need to change the way engineering is promoted and make it more attractive to more students by championing the creative aspects of the discipline and the fundamental role engineers play in our society to sectors as diverse as healthcare, food production and conservation.”