Engineering skills crisis threatens energy sector

Engineering skills shortages threaten to leave the UK behind its international counterparts in the race to secure energy markets. That’s the conclusion of the annual report released this week by […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Engineering skills shortages threaten to leave the UK behind its international counterparts in the race to secure energy markets.

That’s the conclusion of the annual report released this week by EngineeringUK, an independent, not-for-profit organisation that promotes science, technology and engineering skills.

Engineering UK 2011: The state of Engineering confirms that the engineering sector is at the forefront of rebalancing the UK economy and meeting climate change and renewable energy targets.

The report states that success is dependent upon both investment, “on a scale not known since reconstruction after World War II”, and on significantly boosting the skills of UK workers.

And the report raises concerns about whether the UK’s lack of skills at the appropriate level could put opportunities out of reach.

EngineeringUK chief executive Paul Jackson said: “While the demand for investment is a crucial message brought home by the report, the underlying issue, upon which all else rests, is the need to produce the right number of engineers with the right level of skills to maximise the UK’s economic potential.

“Addressing the imbalance between demand and the right level of engineering skills is a generational challenge. There is a massive opportunity here for industry. The government and the engineering sector must now grip this challenge and make Britain the watchword for low carbon engineering expertise.”

Business Minister Mark Prisk this week acknowledged the challenges ahead. “Nearly half of those currently employed are over 45, so the industry faces the challenge of filling more than 500,000 posts over the coming six years. We need a new approach where industry, education and government works collaboratively to achieve this common ambition so I welcome this partnership to address these challenges.”