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Skills crisis looms with 500,000 engineers needed by 2017

Up to 500,000 engineering and manufacturing workers will be needed in the coming eight years to satisfy demand in the transport, construction, aerospace and defence industries, according to Engineering UK.

A new report highlights barriers to achieving the figure, which include an increasingly sparse pool of talent, a decline in engineering lecturers and fewer students studying for manufacturing and engineering degrees.

Engineering UK predicts more than 350,000 skilled workers will be needed in the transport sector alone by 2017.

The construction industry will look to recruit almost 400,000, while 1,000 new apprentices and graduates will be required every year until 2025 to replace nuclear workers.

Chief executive of Engineering UK, Paul Jackson, said: “We are calling for Government, business and education providers to work together to develop a clear road map for the UK engineering sector.

“Tax breaks and other regulatory incentives for small and medium-sized enterprises will play a significant part, but what really matters is a long-term strategy, detailing all major infrastructure projects for the foreseeable future and inspiring UK engineering with the confidence it needs to invest in new skills and technologies.

“Without the coherence and stability a clear roadmap will bring, the UK will not only miss out on the high-level manufacturing skills it needs to get the economy back on track but could also lose ground to other countries in many highly-competitive global markets.”

Readers' comments (44)

  • do something about the pathetic salaries otherwise don't expect students to study engineering degrees.

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  • You've corrected the spelling of EngineeringUK but not cioming (sic)!

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  • news on redundancies news on shortfalls --what is the correct state of affairs -does anyone know ?

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  • If British companies are going to treat engineers as it is now
    They can forget any development.
    Comparing to Germany -
    lower salary;
    lower social status
    worse life conditions
    and the result is - they have what they pay for

    Engineer from Poland

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  • About 20 years ago, the UK had about twice as many accountants than Germany; the UK engineering company I worked for had a ratio of engineering staff to financial/admin staff of about 25 to 1.
    I don't know the international comparison any more, but the same UK company now has a eng to fin/admin ratio of about 3 to 1, so our overhaeds are now even hiigher ....... than Germany's?

    If the financial staff are snowed under, they authorise themselves to recruit help. If the engineering staff are snowed under, the fin/admin staff tell them to take short cuts or guess instead of analyse. When work slackens off, the fin/admin staff lay off the engineering staff first.

    As a nation, are we offering young engineers the opportunity to work 10-12 hour days (often for limited renumeration) so that the fin/admin staff they support can go home at 5 (many with substantial renumeration earnt by others)?

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  • How many politicians in this country have an engineering degree or possess any idea on what engineers are worth so any change is even possible? In addition people with no engineering qualifications are on top management jobs within engineering consultancies.

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  • How about a lower personal tax rate for engineers?

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  • I agree with more or less all of the above.

    Training and development (being a trainee engineer myself) is both challenging, time consuming and demands a lot of dedication.

    To become a respected engineer requires specialism as well as competent knowledge of a vast range of subjects.

    Engineers are undervalued and underpaid for their work which at times are comparable to the techincal level of a Doctor, Lawyer or equivalent.

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  • All preceding comments are very predictable, particularly the ever present issue concerning remuneration.

    However there is also an issue that does not seem to be getting much exposure. I have seen no articles that looked at the prospect of a high rate of older Engineers leaving the industry ealier than they would otherwise because of the new Eurocodes. Many of these older Engineers simply do not want to take on board yet another set of codes. In my career I have taken on 3 no. different concrete codes, 2 no. steelwork codes, 3 no. water retaining codes. A whole new set of codes in all of the materials at the same time is a daunting prospect.

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  • If we want to make people to study engineering we need to make the 'engineer' title more prestigious.
    I came to the UK 4 years ago and was really shocked that people call 'engineer' a chap who come to fix your xero copier or kettle!
    In Poland (where I am from) or other continental Europe countries the term engineer is as prestigious as lawyer or doctor.

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