The UK must find 600,000 new engineers over the next seven years and remove the male-dominated image of the sector to attract new recruits, a report has said.
The Engineering and Technology Board’s Engineering UK report, to be published on Tuesday, will say that the UK needs an extra 587,000 engineers between now and 2017, all with advanced skills, so that the country can compete with other developed economies.
The report expressed concern at the 30% decline in the number of lecturers teaching engineering, manufacturing and technology courses, and at the 17% drop in the number of higher education students going into production and manufacturing degrees this year.
The report said: “The UK has great potential to rebalance its economy by drawing on its strong manufacturing base. However, shortages of new engineers and of the further education lecturers to train them could seriously jeopardise this, impacting on successful British industries including manufacturing, aerospace and construction.”
Paul Jackson, the board’s chief executive, told the Guardian: “Manufacturing is incredibly important to the UK, and engineering important to manufacturing. The question is whether we are doing enough soon enough.”
He added that engineering had an image problem and needed to tackle the gender divide.
The report will also say that almost half of manufacturing employees by 2017 will need to be qualified to the level of an advanced apprentice, a graduate or a postgraduate.