New engineers worth billions to Scots economy

Getting more young people into the industry is vital. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Getting more young people into the industry is vital. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
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SCOTLAND needs to find more than 147,000 extra engineers by 2022 in order to tap into rising demand worth billions of pounds to the economy, ­according to a report being presented to MSPs today.

EngineeringUK’s document 2015 The State of Engineering, produced for the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET), found that demand for engineers is at an all-time high and calls for renewed efforts to inspire young people to seek careers in the sector.

IET chief executive Nigel Fine said: “There has never been a better time to be an engineer: demand that far ­outstrips supply, rising salaries and ­fantastic career prospects are typical characteristics of the engineering ­profession today.

“Ensuring a pipeline of future engineering talent depends on stronger collaboration between employers and the educational system. We need to bridge the gap between expectations and achievement, in addition to up-skilling the existing workforce.

“Above all, we need to take action now … Otherwise we could find ourselves sleepwalking into a deepening skills crisis from which we may struggle to recover.”

The report’s findings are to be ­revealed at an IET event at the Scottish Parliament, hosted by West of Scotland MSP Stewart Maxwell and with a keynote speech from Annabelle Ewing, minister for youth and women’s ­employment.

The report concludes that Scotland will need an additional 147,300 engineers by 2022, compared with 2012 levels. These roles could generate an additional £1.7 billion per year for the Scottish economy if they can be filled.

The report also highlights the need for careers inspiration for school children and calls for 11- to 14-year-olds to be given “at least one engineering experience with an employer”.

IET also wants more support for teachers and careers advisers “so they understand the range of opportunities available in engineering”.

MSPs attending the Holyrood event will be asked to sign a pledge to support engineering in their constituencies.

Across the UK, EngineeringUK found that companies will need to recruit 182,000 workers with engineering skills every year, and that there is a current annual shortfall of 55,000.

Meeting the demand for new engineering jobs would generate £27bn a year for the UK economy from 2022, it estimated.

EngineeringUK, which promotes the industry, said that to meet the projected employer demand the number of engineering apprentices and graduates entering the industry will need to double.

Stephen Tetlow, head of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said the UK would “surrender any chance of future growth” if it failed to provide industry with the engineering skills it needs.

He said: “This report shows the UK is facing a cliff-edge. It provides sobering statistics on the drastic shortage of engineers the UK faces. Every politician and policy-maker must understand the messages it is sending.”

Miranda Davies, director of emerging talent at engineering company Thales, said: “We need young people to ­understand our industry better, to see the range of careers available and to be excited by where engineering could take them.”