Despite its capacity for industrial growth, the UK is in danger of falling behind in the global race as a result of its engineering skills gap. In its latest annual report on the state of UK engineering, industry organisation EngineeringUK has called for a doubling of the number of under 19s who take up advanced level engineering apprenticeships and says this is imperative if the country is to ensure its engineering talent pipeline.
According to the publication, the number of under 19s enrolling in advanced engineering apprenticeships dropped by 12.2% in 2011/2012, taking the figure down to 16,280. The negative trend could have an adverse impact on the UK’s growth potential, both at present and in the future. Preliminary figures for 2012/13 reveal a marginal increase in uptake within that age group, but the overall result remains in negative territory.
EngineeringUK has made a number of recommendations in its 2014 report, urging a collaborative approach to the problem. This means that the government, the engineering community, engineering companies and the education sector should work together to keep the talent supply flowing. In addition to doubling the number of under 19s doing advanced engineering apprenticeships, EngineeringUK also called for a twofold rise in engineering graduate numbers. This will be critical for meeting future demand for such graduates and will help address the shortage of physics teachers and engineering lecturers.
The report further urges support for teachers and careers advisors to help them provide students with relevant career information and increase their awareness of the various professional opportunities available in the scientific, technological and engineering sectors. Students should be made to realise the value of STEM subjects for employers and also get the opportunity for hands-on experience in a modern engineering workplace, the report noted.