IET: More young people studying maths and science but skills shortage still threatens economy

This year’s GCSE results show more young people are studying science and maths and the first cohort of students have successfully completed the Higher Diploma in Engineering.

However, Europe’s largest body of engineers is warning that the UK faces a massive skills shortage, unless this trend increases at a rapid pace.

Around 20% of science-related professional jobs in the UK are filled by migrants demonstrating how significant the problem has become. This could become even more unmanageable with a number of low carbon economy initiatives high on the agenda.

At the same time, a soon to be published survey by the Institution of Engineering of Technology (IET) shows that one in every five engineering employers are concerned they will not be able to find suitable engineering candidates to recruit in the next four to five years. That is a significant increase from the figure reported in 2009.

Individual science GCSE entries are up. Meanwhile, out of 3,069 young people that completed the new two-year Higher Diplomas, 871 studied engineering, making it one of the most popular. So short term there are improvements, but this trend is still not sufficient to meet expected future demand.

Paul Davies, Head of Policy at the IET said: “There is a significant risk regarding the match between the supply and demand of UK engineering skills. That is why we have been supporting the formation of the new Diploma from the outset, as we believe it is essential to get engineering into schools and young people enthused about this exciting subject.

“This innovative qualification enables young people to progress towards undergraduate study or employment with the confidence that they have ‘real work ready’ skills.

“The Diploma has the potential to ensure that engineering is at the heart of the curriculum and on the minds of young people as an exciting career option for the first time.”

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Notes to editors:

.The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is Europe’s largest professional body of engineers and technologists

.Expert media spokespersons are available on request for interviews or quotes

.Migrants in science-related jobs statistics from UKCES 2008

.Employers’ lack of confidence statistic from IET polling in 2010 of 400 UK science-related companies