2017 Engineering UK: The State of Engineering published

Feb 20, 2017

As the global economy evolves and Britain prepares for a new future, engineering and technology will play an ever more vital role in driving our economy, creating employment, building the essential infrastructure to compete in the modern world, and enabling a higher quality of life for all. This will be a tough world in which to compete, with an increase in demand for highly skilled jobs which leverage a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills set, and fast growth of knowledge-based services.

The 2017 Engineering UK: the state of engineering report shows some positive signs –engineering and technology degrees are up 9%; England has seen the highest number of engineering related apprenticeship starts for ten years; and increasing numbers of 11-16 year olds would consider a career in engineering.

But there continue to be real concerns and efforts should be redoubled to improve STEM education, to attract young people into engineering, and to retain, motivate and improve the skills of those already in the industry.

Demand for graduates for engineering roles outstrips supply: we conclude from the report, a shortfall of at least 20,000 annually (and likely higher, depending on assumptions). We are highly dependent on attracting and retaining international talent from the EU and beyond to help meet this shortfall: a vital part of post-Brexit policies.

Efforts to attract girls and women into engineering are falling short: today less than 1 in 8 of the engineering workforce is female; boys are 3.5 times more likely to study A level physics than girls; and five times more likely to gain an E&T degree.

To address these concerns our recommendations are to:

  • Encourage many more pupils to choose STEM subjects and maintain the option of a career in engineering and technology.
  • Increase diversity in engineering and technology, through the education system, into and throughout employment.
  • Draw on the talent already in the workforce: increase skills, improve retention, and attract employees from other sectors.
  • Enhance the vital international dimension in UK higher education and subsequent employment.
  • Develop an industrial strategy that reinforces and sustains engineering’s contributions to the UK, and recognises and helps to address the STEM skills gap.

We hope these recommendations will influence the agendas of everyone involved in the relevant aspects of Government, education and employment, and so help to galvanise more action, for the good of the UK economy and for future generations.

Malcolm Brinded, Chairman, EngineeringUK

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering

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