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UK Engineering Skills Crisis

over 1 year ago

UK engineering skills crisis

Currently, 5.7 million people work in registered engineering enterprises in the UK. This makes up 19% of total UK employment. With Brexit on the horizon and an ageing engineering workforce, we have taken a look at some of the key contributors to an engineering skills crisis in the UK.

How will Brexit impact?

  • Engineering in the UK will definitely be affected by Brexit due to potential restrictions on the free movement of labour
  • 82% of recruiters believe that the EU referendum result will reduce the talent pool (Poland, France, Germany, Italy and India are the top 5 countries UK employers recruit international engineering talent from)
  • Rights of EU citizens up in the air and employers may think it is safer to shift to hiring UK engineering talent

In a whitepaper issued by Jobsite earlier this month, there were two clear factors of the engineering skills crisis in the UK. Firstly, the lack of young Engineers entering into this industry.

Where are the young Engineers?

  • The lack of young British engineering talent is an industry wide problem
  • The Institution of Engineering and Technology says that there is currently a mismatch between the UK education system and the skills engineering candidates need when entering the job market
  • Careers advice given by parents and school teachers may add to this shortage as the advice givers may never have considered engineering for themselves
  • Many young people don’t know what qualifications you need to become an Engineer
  • This said, the proportion of 11-16 year olds who would consider a career in engineering has risen from 40% to 51% in the last 5 years

Secondly, the gender bias in these industries still remains, with a noticeable lack of female Engineers.

Where are the female Engineers?

  • Currently, females make up only 14.4% of all people working in STEM occupations (Labour Force Survey)
  • 74% of recruiters say that engineering is perceived as a career for men
  • A huge contributor to this shortage is the lack of female role models in these areas – having more visible women in high-ranking senior positions could persuade other women to join these industries

Overall, recommendations made in The EngineeringUK report, to help with this skills crisis, include encouraging more pupils to choose STEM subjects at school and to increase diversity in engineering and technology from the start of education carried through to employment. As well as this, the report suggests improving retention of existing engineering employees as well as attracting employees from different sectors.


EngineeringUK (2017): Engineering UK 2017 – Synopsis and recommendations

Jobsite (2017): Fixing the UK’s Engineering Skills Crisis