The UK engineering industry faces a major challenge next year, as it strives to reconcile the demands for a low-carbon economy with increasing fiscal pressure, all the while dealing with a looming skills shortage.
That's the conclusion of this year's report into the state of the industry from booster organisation EngineeringUK. Entitled ‘Engineering UK 2011' and available for download here, the report notes that while engineering makes up almost one-fifth of the UK economy and retains a healthy research base, skills shortages and gender imbalances are already slowing growth in some sectors.
"This year's report centres on the low carbon economy: the immense economic, social and technological challenges we face in achieving it, and the huge opportunities such an achievement would afford the UK, providing we are able to meet the demands for skilled workers," said Dr Anil Kumar, EngineeringUK's director for education and research..
"It confirms that the engineering sector is at the forefront of rebalancing the UK economy and meeting climate change and renewable energy targets. Success is dependent upon both investment, on a scale not known since reconstruction after World War II, and on significantly boosting the skill levels of UK workers."
Dr Kumar added that his organisation, which exists to promote the contribution that engineering and technology make to society, had already organised a roundtable meeting at 11 Downing Street, bringing together government ministers, industry and education to discuss the challenges.
He noted that a particular problem remains the public's low awareness both of engineering's contribution to their quality of life, and of its attractiveness as a creative, people-centred and relatively well-paid career.