61 per cent of employers reported a lack of skilled graduates

Engineering skill gap widening with education failing the sector report warns

An IET report has claimed that more than half of organisations believe newly recruited engineers do not meet their ‘reasonable expectations’.

Employers are struggling to recruit engineers with the necessary skills, the report warns, with 61 per cent saying graduates are their biggest concern.

In addition, the education system is criticised for failing to encourage pupils to go into engineering-related fields with one employer describing most teachers as having ‘only the flimsiest grasp of what engineering really is’.

Females account for only 9 per cent of all engineering and technology employees, and only 37 per cent of the 400 companies that participated in the survey said they have gender diversity initiatives in place.

The president of the IET, Naomi Climer, recently said that employers are failing to take on more women of their own accord and should be given quotas in order to address the imbalance.

Graham Pearl, an engineering director at dB Broadcast who contributed to the report, said: "We would love to see more females in our industry.

"Technology-based courses do not appear to be favoured by females. We recently had one female applicant for our graduate positions out of 50 applicants - this is an industry-wide issue and in the niche broadcast technology sector it is completely male dominated."

London Underground’s Kevin Payne believes that primary and secondary education fails to place a strong emphasis on practical engineering questions.

"There is a crying need to pump really constructive, positive messages about engineering at multiple levels, to get strong role models in front of children, and to inculcate in children the joy of taking things to pieces to find out how they really work,” he said.

Other findings from the report include:

  • 69 per cent of employers recruiting graduates report a lack of available graduates
  • 68 per cent are having most difficulty recruiting senior engineers with five to ten years’ experience
  • 75 per cent do not have LGBT/ ethnic diversity initiatives in place
  • 53 per cent feel that Government initiatives for recruiting apprentices are not straightforward
  • 94 per cent recognise they have a responsibility to support employee transition to the workplace

Nigel Fine, IET chief executive, expressed concern that the demand for engineers in the UK remains high but the supply is unable to keep pace.

“Stronger and deeper collaboration between employers and academic institutions is needed to agree practical steps to ensure that young people are suitably prepared both academically and practically before they start work,” he said.

“Supporting and encouraging teachers and academics to spend time in industry – and employers to visit schools, colleges and universities – would also be hugely beneficial.”

The recruiter Randstad CPE recently claimed that the need for large numbers of experienced workers on the massive Crossrail project in London is resulting in a skills vacuum in other parts of the country.

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