Research reveals Britain's 1.5 million 'Lost engineers'

58 per cent of the UK's most highly-trained and experienced engineers are not using their specialist skills at work, according to research from consultancy firm Oxford Intelligence.

In the week when EngineeringUK's 2009/10 Report confirmed that Britain needs to recruit almost 600,000 engineers up to 2017 to remain globally competitive, a survey of advanced engineering skills across Western Europe appears to show that more than 1.5 million UK engineers are not using their specialist skills at work.

The findings were part of an audit carried out by Oxford Intelligence, a consultancy which focuses on foreign direct investment strategies for governments, international corporates and economic development agencies. The audit set out to provide data on the available skilled workforce across eight 'hard-to-find' skill-sets in 10 key countries.

"Our study has identified a significant number of people that have effectively been lost to our engineering sector. While we look at ways to bring new talent into the industry, our report suggests we should be focusing on plugging the gaps that are leading to the loss of engineering skills" said the consultancy's business development director, Jonathan Davidson.

He said that the survey considered a range of factors that could have created these gaps, including salary, gender and location-based factors. Understanding why engineering has lost nearly 1.5 million skilled people could not only help the sector retain talent, it could also reduce the cost of expensive training initiatives aimed at filling the void, he added.

"Oxford Intelligence set out to identify the current availability of talent, as well as allowing us to profile the workforce and develop support for economic development and corporate location planning," he continued. "While we identify that 1.5 million have been lost, that doesn't mean they can't be encouraged to come back to the sector. This could be a win-win for the government and the industry if we could develop policies that encourage people with an existing level of skills, training and experience to return to the profession."

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