The UK Engineering sector currently accounts for a massive 455.6 billion of the UK’s 1,683 billion of the UK GDP.  Aside from being a huge contributor to GDP within Britain, the UK Engineering industry has a hugely positive impact on the world around us too, with engineers developing new ways of tackling global issues such as climate change, supply of food and water and new energy resources. By 2022 it is envisaged that there will be over 2.6 million engineering job openings – generating around 27 billion GDP per year – but if there is the workforce to fill that gap. However, it is well known and documented that there is and continues to be a shortage of skilled engineers within the UK and a shortage of apprenticeships / graduate schemes to develop our future talent base. Currently annual engineering graduates and apprenticeships are less than half the number needed to ensure that by 2022 the predicted 2.6 million job openings will have 2.6 million skilled engineers to fill the roles.
Why is there a skills shortage, and what can we do about it?
Airbus, who operate one of the UK’s biggest and arguably most popular Engineering graduate and apprenticeship programmes believe they may know why. In a recent interview with the Guardian, a spokesperson for Airbus stated how he believed that Britain has failed to invest in attracting school leavers into the Engineering sector, instead ‘allowing it to lapse’ and putting more emphasis on a ‘service based economy’ and encouraging leavers to study the physical and biological sciences and medicine. With over 185,580 applications to science courses in 2014 as opposed to a meagre 72,425  who opted to study engineering (and related courses) it would appear that Airbus may well be right.