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ICE: migrant engineers vital if UK is to meet key needs

Institution responds to government’s economic migration consultation.

ICE is bringing together an expert panel of Institution Members to respond to the Government’s consultation on the level at which to set the first annual limit on economic migration.

The proposed cap would limit the number of skilled engineers the UK can bring into the country from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) to help deliver vital infrastructure projects.

Although the recession has impacted negatively on the sector, ICE’s initial findings indicate that making the shift to a decarbonised economy will require a heightened level of specialist civil engineering skills in coming years that cannot currently be met domestically.

While ICE is actively helping industry develop our indigenous skills base, this is a lengthy process - for example it takes around 18 years to train to be a nuclear engineer. Until a fully functional indigenous skills base can be achieved it would be detrimental to the UK’s long-term economic productivity to restrict in the short-term the number of skilled workers vital for key infrastructure projects in the short-term.

Not just a UK problem

It is also evident that this is not just a UK problem. Civil engineering is a global profession with specialists moving around the globe from project to project to fill shortages in other countries. The UK must consider global market conditions before setting potentially damaging national economic migration limits, the ICE said.
International skills shortages mean attracting the very best engineers to work on UK projects is already harder than it has been in the past.

ICE’s 2008 State of the Nation: Capacity and Skills report found that globalisation, together with increased demand is set to exacerbate the skills and capacity crisis facing the industry, fuelling international competition for already strained resources.

  • ICE welcomes written submissions from members who have evidence and/or case studies to support the ICE response. Please visit for more information and the opportunity to contribute. All submissions must be received by Friday 27 August 2010.

Readers' comments (2)

  • There is no such thing as a civil engineers shortage in the UK. One only has to look at the current job market to realise this so called shortage is just an imagination.
    ICE's president is turning the other cheek. I've left the UK a year ago because of the worsening employment situation for Civil/Structural Engineers. Coming from Holland (Delft Univerisity of Technology), my career opportunies in the UK two years ago where absolutely great. But things have changed rapidly during 2009, the job market is completely saturated. There is more supply than demand for civil/structural engineers. It's also clearly reflected in the scandalous (starting) salaries for (graduate) engineers. No wonder young students still divert to other job markets other then engineering, and right they are!

    If there is need for me again in the UK, I'll come back. But current market signal are quite clear at the moment. Obviously not for the ICE's president with his embereassing statement of the civil engineers shortage.

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  • Why do the ICE only want submissions that support the ICE's contention that there is a need to bring in overseas engineers? Why can't they ask for members submissions on the need for this and get a balanced response? Do they not want a debate? Is this an example of employer higher management dominating the ICE agenda to keep costs down rather than train and employee young people in this country?

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