The report findings and recommendations were the basis of a roundtable meeting held at No 11 Downing Street this morning

Lack of engineering 'new blood' concern for UK

A shortfall of under-19s taking advanced engineering apprenticeships could jeopardise the UK’s ability to compete, a new report says.

A report by EngineeringUK has highlighted a decline of 12.2 per cent to 16,280 young people under 19 taking engineering-related Advanced Level Apprenticeships – a downward trend which would damage the UK’s current and future capacity for growth if left unaddressed.

The solution is a two-fold increase in the number of under-19s studying vocational level 3 qualifications as well as a two-fold increase in the number of engineering graduates, according to the annual report’s authors, but with the recommendations remaining the same for the second year running more needs to be done.

EngineeringUK Chief Executive, Paul Jackson, said: “Positive action has been taken to address the skills gap at all levels. The recent Perkins review and announcement of investment in universities and further education colleges’ science and engineering facilities will build a foundation to accelerate skills growth in the sector.

“The overall growth in Advanced Level Apprenticeships is driven by engineers aged 25+, which suggests that UK engineering businesses are taking positive action to ensure current employees are qualified to the right level.

“Undoubtedly other engineering related level 3 vocational qualifications will feed into the future supply of skilled technicians and engineers and should be linked to business.  However, as these findings show, it is vital we focus on attracting new talent into the industry.

“As the UK economy’s engine for growth, it is crucial that engineering gains sustained support for education, training and careers inspiration.”

The report also urged action to double the numbers of young people studying GSCE physics as part of triple sciences and grow the numbers of students studying physics A level to match those of maths, with a particular focus on increasing take-up and progression by girls.

Careers inspiration for all 11 to 14-year-olds should also be provided, including opportunities to meet technical leaders from across a range of scientific, technological, engineering and business sectors and experience of the workplace.

The need for support for teachers and careers advisors was also highlighted, to help them give better careers information that helps students understand the range of career paths that STEM subjects can lead to.

The report findings and recommendations were the basis of a roundtable meeting held at No 11 Downing Street this morning, at which Minister for Skills and Enterprise Matthew Hancock MP discussed the imperatives of a skilled engineering talent-pipeline with leading business and industry representatives, including BAE Systems, BT Technology, National Grid, Rolls-Royce and Shell UK.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable said: “Tomorrow's Engineers Week, which aimed to inspire young people to consider a career in engineering displayed the wide variety of jobs available. I want the next decade to be the decade of the engineer. In doing this we will build a more balanced and sustainable economy delivering high skills and innovation with engineers of all kinds at its heart.”

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