UK Engineering: Overcoming the Skills Shortage

It’s no secret that the UK is experiencing a severe engineering skills shortage. The British Chamber of Commerce interviewed 6,000 businesses at the close of 2018, and 81% of manufacturers said they found it difficult to hire employees with the qualifications and experience they needed.

Brexit currently has all kinds of businesses, including manufacturing, concerned about how they will manage without EU migrant workers. However, this engineering skills shortage existed before the referendum even took place.

Brexit certainly adds to the problem, but the core of this particular problem is not, and never has been, about international politics. The skills shortage is all about home-grown talent – or the lack of it.  With each wave of retirement, there are fewer and fewer new skilled workers to take their place.

So, how can we overcome this barrier to industry growth?

How is the Engineering Skills Shortage Being Addressed?

There are several schemes designed to address the skills shortage, although none of them currently come close to completely closing the gap. The government’s apprenticeship levy and focus on placing young school leavers into apprenticeships has helped, but it’s nowhere near enough.

In 2018, the UK Government announced the Year of the Engineer in a bid to tackle the engineering skills shortage and increase the number of young people taking engineering courses and applying for engineering roles. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, over a million schoolchildren gained some experience of engineering, and the number of 7-11 year olds who would consider an engineering career increased by 36%. The rise was even greater among girls aged 7-11, where the number more than doubled to 53%.

This is particularly encouraging because we believe that one way forward is to address the gender imbalance and attract more women into skilled engineering roles. We were very proud to sponsor The Girls of Steel, an all-female robotics team who were successful at the VEX Robotics Championship in the UK, and went on to attend the VEX World Championship in the US. Initiatives like these help to provide role models and options for girls to consider a career in engineering.

There’s still a long way to go, but these schemes are definitely helping to promote engineering to young people as a solid career choice.

Perhaps the best thing we can all do is speak to our young people about the jobs available in engineering and encourage them to explore the industry. Why not speak to your local schools and colleges about how you can help to inspire young people to take up a career in engineering?

Young Engineers Are Being Recognised

At Innomech, we pride ourselves on supporting young engineers, and recruiting the very best. We were incredibly proud recently when James Veale, Project Engineer at The Innomech Group won the Young Designer of the Year category in the British Engineering Excellence Awards 2019.

The British Engineering Excellence Awards, currently in their 10th year, were created to celebrate everything that’s great in British engineering design.

This is what James has to say when he discovered he’d been shortlisted:

“I’m massively excited to be one of three nominees shortlisted for the Young Designer of the Year in the British Engineering Excellence Awards.

For ten years, the BEEAs have been an incredibly important recognition of the huge amount of engineering talent present within the UK. Awards such as these ensure that engineers and other innovators continue to be celebrated within our society and, I hope, also show young people that working in engineering can provide creative, stimulating and diverse work.

I feel especially proud that my work developing Gironex’s core technology and first products has me in the running for an award that specifically recognises the young engineers who are innovating early in their career – an award that helped to show me that, even at the beginning of their career, engineers can be more than just a cog in the machine.”

James is certainly more than a cog in the machine here at Innomech, and we’re sure we’ll see many more great achievements from him during his engineering career.

Innomech Support Young Engineers

James is just one example of the stand-out engineers we have working at Innomech, and we’re always looking for ways that we can continue to support young engineers and fuel innovation and growth in the industry.

We support manufacturing businesses across the country and pride ourselves on developing a team with skills that are second to none. We’re passionate about bridging the skills gap in UK engineering, and we are looking forward to supporting many more young people in their engineering careers in the future.

Innomech specialises in the design, development, and production of automation machines for the manufacturing industry. If you would like support and guidance with optimising your automated manufacturing processes, please email us.

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