A lack of engineering graduates is hampering the UK economy and costing manufacturing firms money, according to a new report.
The Royal Academy of Engineering has revealed that more than one-third of engineering firms in the UK believe that engineering graduate shortages and skills deficiencies are causing delays in new product development and additional recruitment costs.
The study of 400 UK engineering companies found specific graduate skills gaps in problem solving and application of theory to real problems, breadth of knowledge, and ability in maths.
The report suggests the UK’s economic performance could be jeopardised by the combination of declining numbers of engineering graduates, and insufficient graduates pursuing careers in the sector.
While almost half a million engineering graduates emerge each year from India and China, the number of students opting for engineering courses in the UK has remained almost static over the past decade at 24,500 per year.
At the same time, the number of engineering students has dropped from 11% to less than 8% of university entrants.
The academy’s honorary secretary for education and training, professor Julia King, said: “We need to see industry and universities collaborating to produce more inspiring engineering degree courses with closer industrial engagement.
“We must also increase the number of students choosing engineering courses. This will start in schools, where we need to encourage more students to choose maths and physics, with better provision for those subjects.”