Addressing the Engineering Skills Gap

There has been much coverage in the news of late regarding the growing evidence of a shortage of skills in key UK industries; such as the engineering industry. A number of factors are thought to be contributing to the impending skills crisis, including a shortage of individuals entering the engineering industry. Furthermore, the problem is being exacerbated by the large number of highly skilled engineers approaching retirement age. Indeed, according to one report whilst the average age of an engineer in Britain is 54, only 6% of students in the UK are studying engineering or technology.

As reported in The Telegraph, it is estimated that there is a need for at least 87,000 new engineers in the UK each year. Currently, the number of individuals graduating each year in England stands at 21,000, hence the shortfall is obvious, and in order to reach this figure the UK will need to at least double the number of graduates from key subject areas including science, technology, maths and engineering (STEM) in order to meet this demand.

Not only is the looming engineering skills crisis likely to have a significant impact on the engineering industry here in the UK, but it is also predicted to have a number of wider implications. More specifically, it is thought that this will ultimately have a huge impact on the economy.

Tackling the gap

The government and a number of other organisations have expressed growing concern over the impending skills crisis. Indeed, the government is desperate to encourage more people to take an interest in subjects such as engineering, recognizing that this is necessary in order to ensure that the UK remains a world leader in research and technology. As a result, a number of initiatives have been launched in order to help tackle the problem, including policies aimed at getting more young people into the engineering industry.

One further key way the current skills gap could be addressed is by encouraging more women to enter the engineering industry. According to WISE (Women in to Science and Engineering), whilst the number of women in engineering roles has roughly doubled since 2012, they are still significantly underrepresented in the industry, and getting more women into engineering is vital for propelling the UK onto the competitive world stage.

As reported in a recent article, leaders from some of Britain’s chief science, technology and engineering companies are working together to try and boost the number of women who enter and continue in these industries. Interestingly, careers as an engineering contractor are an increasingly popular option for women, especially given the flexibility that such roles can provide and the diverse range of jobs on offer. Furthermore, attempts are being made to improve working conditions to create a more inclusive working culture.

Engineering careers

According to the BBC, a key part of the problem is that a number of misconceptions regarding engineering continue to predominate; particularly among young people. For example, a widely held belief is that engineering is an unsecure and poorly paid career choice. Significantly, according to research from the University of Southampton, even children as young as 10 are spurning engineering as a career choice due to stereotypes and misconceptions of the industry, and images of dirty and physical work continue to prevail.

However, engineering is in fact a very attractive career choice, and indeed there are a number of benefits to be had from pursuing a career as an engineering contractor. According to this article, engineering graduates are among some of the best paid degree holders in the UK. Furthermore, those graduates from all universities with mechanical or general engineering degrees earn similar salaries to the average Cambridge graduate, and even better than those from Oxford.

The chief executive of the Institution of engineering and technology, Nigel Fine, said “‘There has never been a better time to be an engineer, demand that far outstrips supply, competitive graduate salaries and fantastic career prospects are typical characteristics of the engineering profession today”

Here at ICS, our expert team of contractor accountants regularly works alongside contractors in the engineering industry, and we can help to make this already attractive career choice even more appealing using our proven services. We can assist you using a variety of administrative, accountancy and payroll services, helping to save you time and ensuring that you are able to concentrate on the aspects of your business that are most important to you. For more information about our range of services, please do not hesitate to contact us by giving us a call on 0800 195 3750 or emailing us at info@icsuk.com. A member of our knowledgeable team will be happy to help you with your enquiries.