The IET’s skills survey has found that organisations are finding it harder to recruit engineers compared to 2011.
The report, which surveyed 400 organisations in the UK to gauge the state of skills in the engineering and technology sector, found that there was demand for new recruits but employers were struggling to find staff.
While 58 per cent of organisations planned to recruit new staff in the next 12 months – and 39 per cent planned to recruit engineering, IT and technical staff over the next 12 months – 29 per cent of respondents said they did not expect to be able to recruit suitably qualified engineers, IT staff and technicians to meet their needs this year. The survey found that the confidence level had dropped by 16 per cent since 2011.
The two key reasons for this was a lack of suitably qualified candidates and that candidates lacked the right experiences, respondents said.
The biggest skills gap among new recruits was a lack of practical experience, the survey found, with 31 per cent of organisations saying that graduates did not have sufficient practical experience.
The planned recruitment of engineers and technical staff was highest in aerospace, defence, education and skills, electronics and energy.
Stephanie Fernandes, IET principal policy advisor for education and skills, said: “The engineering sector has enjoyed a renaissance recently, playing such a central role in enabling a successful Olympic Games.
“The sector is of huge importance to the economy, typically accounting for a quarter of all turnover in the UK. This new research clearly shows a desire by employers to recruit new staff, but that they are struggling to find the right people.
“The planned recruitment is clearly good news, suggesting increased confidence in the economic outlook, but if firms are unable to fill their vacancies the economy will continue to shrink.”
The survey also found that women were very under-represented in both engineering and IT. Only 4 per cent of technicians and 6 per cent of engineers were women. Defence had the highest proportion of women employed in engineering roles, followed by construction.
The IET’s seventh ‘Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry’ report also showed that 77 per cent of companies were recruiting new staff as a result of business expansion.
Fernandes said: “It is more important than ever that the education system consistently delivers the engineers and technicians that industry desperately needs. This reinforces the recent House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report which called for urgent action by the government to boost student numbers in the STEM subjects.”