Insight: Skills shortage putting engineering and tech businesses at risk

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Over half of employers in the engineering and technology sector are struggling with skills shortages, putting the future of their business at risk, according to a new study.

Findings from the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) annual report on skills have revealed that demand for staff remains high, with 51% of employers in the sector planning to recruit this year, yet of those, more are struggling to find the right talent compared to last year.

Almost 60% of the 400 companies questioned believed that a shortage of engineers and technicians would be a threat to their business, while 44% said that new recruits do not meet their expected levels of skills.

Over half of employers in the sector are calling for greater links with schools and universities, to help change the perception of engineering among young people, with 30% complaining that school leavers don’t have enough practical experience, and 25% believing they don’t have adequate technical knowledge.

More employers are snubbing external training in favour of in-house compared to last year, according to the report. However, there has been a significant drop in formal, technical and soft skill training courses since 2013 – 13% of employers are not offering any training support this year, compared to 2% last year.

Gender diversity in the industry still remains a problem, with women making up just 6% of the workforce – a figure that has not improved much since 2008. Yet despite this, 43% are not taking any steps to address workplace diversity.

“Promoting engineering to women is particularly important given how few currently work as engineers, so it’s disappointing to see that so many employers are taking no real action to improve diversity,” said Nigel Fine, IET chief executive.

“They need to take urgent steps to improve recruitment and retention of women, for example by promoting flexible and part-time working, together with planned routes of progression that can accommodate career breaks.

“There also needs to be deeper engagement between employers and the education system to produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving UK economy.”

About Lucie Mitchell

About Lucie Mitchell

Lucie trained as a journalist in 2003 and began her career in journalism as a Reporter for SecEd magazine, a weekly publication for secondary school teachers, before moving on to become Deputy Features Editor for General Practitioner, where she wrote, commissioned and edited numerous features for the business section of the magazine. She has also written articles for The Guardian, EYE magazine and MedEconomics magazine. Lucie joined Sift Media as Features Editor in February 2007 and served as Editor of HRZone.co.uk from 2007 to 2009. She has since worked on a number of other Sift Media titles, including PublicTechnology.com and BusinessZone.co.uk and now works as a freelance journalist.

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