The Institution of Engineering and Technology, one of the world’s largest multi-discipline, professional societies for engineers and technicians, recently carried out an annual survey of businesses in the UK to gauge the state of skills in the engineering and technology sector. The research shows that companies are finding it more challenging to recruit engineers than in 2011. If this situation persists, the UK economy is likely to continue shrinking.
The IET’s annual ‘Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry’ survey for 2012 indicates that for the first time since the recession, companies have the confidence to expand their engineering workforce. There is a demand for new recruits, with 77% of the companies planning to hire new staff within the next 12 months, but employers are struggling to find the right staff.
The survey reveals that this year, 58% of companies are planning to recruit employees compared to just 36 per cent in 2011, and compared to a high of 63% in 2008 before the recession.
Stephanie Fernandes, IET Principal Policy Advisor for Education and Skills said: “The engineering sector has enjoyed a renaissance recently, playing such a central role in enabling a successful Olympics Games. The sector is of huge importance to the economy, typically accounting for a quarter of all turnover in the UK. This new research clearly shows a desire by employers to recruit new staff, but that they are struggling to find the right people. The planned recruitment is clearly good news, suggesting increased confidence in the economic outlook, but if firms are unable to fill their vacancies the economy will continue to shrink.”
Plans to specifically recruit engineering, IT and technical staff have also increased with 39% of companies planning to hire new staff within the next 12 months, compared to 24% in 2011.
Stephanie Fernandes added: “It is more important than ever that the education system consistently delivers the engineers and technicians that industry desperately needs. This reinforces the recent House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report which called for urgent action by the government to boost student numbers in the STEM subjects.”