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Skills gap must be tackled, say employers

talent skills 3x2

The industrial strategy is only viable if the skills gap is closed, a survey of engineering employers has found. 

A survey revealed that 61% of employers ranked the recruitment of engineering staff top of a list of challenges in achieving their business objectives in the next three years, and 75% agreed that tackling the skills gap is fundamental to making the government’s strategy viable.

Brexit is expected to have an impact on the flow of engineering talent into the country, the report said, however a minority of employers (29%) saw leaving the European Union as an obstacle to achieving their business objectives in the next three years.

Crossrail talent and resources director Valerie Todd said: “The top three concerns are our reliance on large numbers of EU workers in our ancillary services; the number of people who have worked here a long time and whose talent, expertise and skills we don’t want to lose; and that in any organisation, you deliver more succinctly, more efficiently and more productively when you have certainty. There is a risk of a long period of uncertainty having a corrosive effect on productivity.”

Embracing the “digital transformation of production and supply chains” is another challenge. The survey highlighted that only 30% of employers have firm plans to introduce or extend their use of digital technologies in the next three years, and only 24% of built environment engineering businesses had made plans to embrace digitisation.

The skills survey carried out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) showed that diversity in the workplace could be an issue employers need to address.

It estimated that 11% of the UK engineering and technical workforce is female and only 15% of employers make a particular effort to attract and retain women in those roles beyond observing statutory equality requirements. 

Fewer than one in ten businesses take particular actions to increase the black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) diversity of their workforce. 

The research was conducted through telephone interviews with 800 UK employers of engineering and technology staff representing a range of engineering sectors and sizes. It was supplemented by 11 in-depth interviews in September. 

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