Lack of engineering talent could cost Britain £27bn a year

Engineering sectors contributed £455.6bn to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2014, 27.1 per cent of the total. But imagine how much more could be accomplished if they had a greater amount of skilled workers?

Vince Cable once stated that a strong British engineering sector is vital to the long term sustainability of the UK’s economic recovery. His statement has recently been backed up by Cebr research, conducted on behalf of EngineeringUK.

The engineering sector accounts for over a quarter of the nation’s firms and employs around 5.5m people. And the average engineering sector employee is seen to be more productive than those in accountancy or the legal profession.

Paul Jackson, CEO of EngineeringUK, said: “Engineering is a vital part of the UK economy, not just in terms of significant turnover but also with regards employment. For every new engineering role an additional two jobs are created in the economy. 

“The engineering community is increasingly involved in a collective drive to inspire the next generation, who will ensure the continued growth and success of the industry in the UK. This collaborative work must continue if we are to come even close to realising engineering’s potential.”

For the sector and the economy alike to truly flourish, as Cable suggests, “increasing the supply of engineers is at the heart of it”.

Read more about the engineering sector:

It’s no secret that the UK is in need of more engineers. But it will require 182,000 people per year with the required engineering skills by 2020. The Cebr research only serves to highlight this shortfall, with the UK currently only employing 55,000 such workers.

However, it was found that filling the demand for new engineering jobs will generate an additional £27bn per year for the UK economy from 2022.

These new engineering roles would generate £8.3bn in London and £7.1bn in the South East. The East of England and the South West will benefit from a £2.8bn and £2.2bn boost, respectively, and the North West and Scotland will see an increase of £1.7bn.

Essentially, the Cebr suggests that this is equivalent to building 1,800 schools or 110 hospitals.

Miranda Davies, director of emerging talent at Thales, said: “Britain is great at engineering but this will not continue if we don’t address the massive shortage of skills. We need young people to understand our industry better, to see the range of careers available and to be excited by where engineering could take them. 

“We support the call for collaborative action across Government, business, the education sector and the wider engineering community to address the shortage of engineering skills.”

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Shané Schutte

Shané Schutte is a senior reporter at Real Business, with a particular specialism in employment and business law, human resources, information technology and sales/marketing.

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