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Civils student numbers 45% up

Civil engineering courses see increases while those for other disciplines decline

The number of students studying civil engineering has risen 45% in the past five years, according to a report published by the Engineering Technology Board (ETB) last week.

The rise came despite the total number of students across all engineering disciplines falling by more than 25% during the same period.

Civils graduates are the most likely to get work soon after university, with 74% employed within six months of graduation. They also receive the best graduate salaries, at £23,000 per annum on average.

The disciplines worst hit by the fall in engineering students are electronic and electrical engineering, where the number of undergraduates has plummeted by almost half in five years.

The report warns that the overall drop, coupled with the 16% drop in the 16 to 18 year-old population by 2018, could worsen the UK's already flagging productivity levels.

ETB chief executive John Morton said: "While the ETB welcomes recent Government investment in apprenticeships across all ages, many more apprenticeship places need to be made available for the over 25s in order to combat the 16% decline in school-leavers by 2018."

"To remain globally competitive, the engineering sector needs to attract career-movers and people in their 20s and 30s as well as highly motivated young people."

The targets set by Gordon Brown in the wake of Lord Leitch's skills report, published last December, include making an extra 150,000 apprenticeship places available by 2011.

This was followed last week by the Government's announcement that it intends to run a construction-based National Skills Academy at London's Olympic Park.

However, it was later revealed that the focus of the academy will be on school leavers rather than people with degrees.

With over half of post-graduate Engineering students coming from outside the UK, the report reveals that drastic action to raise the profile of engineering within the UK is needed.

NCE understands Central overnment will develop a higher level skills strategy in 2008.

Plans will include the functions of the Sector Skills Development Agency, which will be absorbed by the UK Commission for Employment & Skills early next year.

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