The UK Engineering Skills Gap
The Engineering Skills Gap
The UK is currently seeing a huge shortfall of over 173,000 workers in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) sector1, which is estimated to be costing the economy a massive £1.5bn per annum2. The most recent survey from Manchester University identifies that consequently half (49%) of engineering businesses are experiencing difficulties in the skills available to them when trying to recruit.1
What’s the reason behind the shortfall of Engineers?
Over the years there have been several factors contributing to this shortfall. Firstly, economic factors, where businesses have reduced headcount and entry level positions have certainly contributed. This has led to skilled workers leaving the industry for other opportunities and not returning.
Secondly, the lack of diversity is another evident problem. Only 12% of engineers in the UK are women, and just 16% of engineering students are female. Additionally, only 8% of black, Asian, and minority ethnic individuals are technicians or engineers, even though they make up 12% of the total workforce.3
Furthermore, it is also clear from Manchester University’s open letter to the UK Government1 that there is a lack of understanding around the connection engineering has to science and maths, right back to primary aged children. Professor Danielle George MBE said “Children eagerly learn about science and maths, but the connection to engineering – the link between these subjects, their purpose and application to the world in which we live – is not currently being made. We need to ensure there are clearer learning outcomes for these subjects linked to engineering.”
Moreover, a staggering 19.5% of engineers currently working in the UK are due to retire by 2026, only exacerbating the skills, knowledge and experience gap.4
What is needed to resolve the skills gap?
It’s clear the most effective long-term solution to resolving the skills gap is to invest in education. Positively promoting the career opportunities available within the engineering sector to school aged children will encourage more young adults to consider it as a career option when choosing their future path.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for new engineers to enter the sector and gain the skills and training required to excel in their own career and are available for individuals of any age. Apprenticeships also present an opportunity for organisations to plug their own skills gap, when planned to align with the future goals of the business.
- The University of Manchester (2021). An open letter to the Government to help tackle the UK’s engineering skills shortage. Available at: https://www.manchester.ac.uk/discover/news/an-open-letter-to-the-government-to-help-tackle-the-uks-engineering-skills-shortage/ (Accessed 12 April 2022)
- Politics Home (2021). Engineering and tech giants join forces to STEM £1.5bn annual skills gap. Available at: https://www.politicshome.com/members/article/engineering-and-tech-giants-join-forces-to-stem-15bn-annual-skills-gap (Accessed 12 April 2022)
- Lindstrom Group (2020). The Push for diversity in Engineering. Available at: https://lindstromgroup.com/uk/article/diversity-in-engineering/ (Accessed 28 April 2022)
- Johnathan Lee (2020). What’s the reason for the shortage of engineers in the UK? Available at: https://www.jonlee.co.uk/blog/2020/01/whats-the-reason-behind-the-shortage-of-engineers-in-uk?source=google.com (Accessed 28 April 2022)