53% of employers in the engineering and technology sector say the shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business.
And as demand for engineers across the country continues to rise, 6 in 10 employers report recruitment of engineering and technical staff with the right skills the biggest anticipated barrier to achieving their business objectives over the next three years. The findings are highlighted in a report published today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
The Skills and Demand in Industry report (2019) concludes that nearly half of the companies in the sector (48%) report difficulties with the skills available in the labor market when trying to recruit.
- Young people lack the workplace skills required by industry
- Companies reporting internal skills gaps have seen widening disparities across the board
- Many employers unaware new T Level courses require them to offer young people work placements.
- Only 12% of companies are taking, or have taken, any action to increase the diversity of their engineering, IT and technical workforce in terms of ethnicity, LGBT+ status, and disability
Although one in three employers (31%) say their workforce has grown over the last three years, around a fifth (22%) still report internal skills gaps.
Among those with skills gaps or limitations in their workforce, 48% report gaps in the skills of their apprentices or other young trainees (up from 30% in 2017) while many fully-qualified professionals are also found to be lacking in the required skillsets.
The quality of young people entering the industry is a key concern for employers with 73% citing problems with candidates who have academic knowledge but not the required workplace skills.
To address these growing concerns over the skills gaps and limitations in the engineering workforce, 81% agree that businesses have a responsibility to support the transition from education and training into the workplace.
Surprisingly less than a quarter of all employers (23%) are going to schools or careers events to help young people understand and value engineering careers.
While the Government is keen to trumpet the new T-Level courses developed in collaboration with employers and businesses to prepare post GCSE students for the world of work, only 28% of employers are aware that the courses which start in September 2020 require students to have an industrial placement.
59% of employers state that they have the capacity to offer work experience as part of T Levels, but only 43% say they intend to offer it.
The study also found that most companies liable to pay the Apprenticeship Levy have reported they are using it. Nearly half say it is easy to use (48%).
32% of firms have an engineering or technical apprentices in place, with an average of between two and three apprentices each.
Just over one in 10 businesses (12%) are taking, or have taken, any action to increase the diversity of their engineering, IT and technical workforces in terms of ethnicity, LGBT+ status, and disability. The proportion of women within the engineering and technical workforce remains at 11%.
About the author: IET inspires, inform and influences the global engineering community to engineer a better world. We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth mean we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.