The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET’s) Engineering and Technology: Skills & Demand in Industry report is now in its ninth year and is based on a survey of 400 employers with engineering and IT skills requirements.
Across sectors 51% of respondents said that they are currently looking for engineering recruits but of those, more than half said they are struggling to find the right people.
Fifty nine per cent of those who contributed to IET’s survey admitted that they believe an engineering skills shortage poses a threat to their business in the UK and according to Barry Brooks, president of the IET, the energy sector is among those which should be most concerned.
“The energy sector, in particular, is facing a number of serious challenges including energy security and the introduction of smart grids,” said Brooks.
“As a result, it has one of the highest levels of recruitment for engineers and technicians with 54 per cent of employers currently recruiting. And the recruitment boom is set to continue with 47 per cent of energy businesses looking to recruit engineers and technicians over the next 12 months.”
Furthermore, IET’s report highlights that energy companies are underutilitising newly reformed apprenticeship programme to help fill this skills gap.
Its repoort found that although the energy sector expects to have one of the highest demands for technical skills among all engineering-based industries in coming years it, is also one of those with lowest awareness of recent government reforms to imporave and promote apprenticeships in the UK.
To mitigate the risks associated with the UK’s engineering skills shortage, IET has also urged employers to help widen the talent pool by attracting more women into engineering careers.
IET’s report found that little progress has been made in increasing the proportion of women working as engineers in the UK since 2008. The current level of around 6% is among the worst in Europe yet IET found that 43 per cent of engineering employers are not taking any specific action to improve gander ratios in their workforces.
Another area of weakness in talent generation identified by IET was in education engagement.
“If we want to secure a pipeline of skilled engineers for the energy – and other – sectors in order to deliver a thriving UK economy, meaningful and sustained collaboration between employers and the education system is an absolute priority,” said Brooks.
“The onus is on us all – Government, employers, educators, parents and professional institutions – to make this happen.”