IET: Engineers responds to UKCES survey

Responding to the UKCES Employer Skills Survey, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has highlighted how more young people and better quality apprenticeships will help solve the skills crisis.

Michelle Richmond, IET  Director of Membership & Professional Development, said: “Solving the problem means driving up the quality of engineering apprenticeships – while also doing more to attract young people into engineering careers.  It is worth highlighting that, while we cannot be complacent about the enormity of this task, we are starting to make some progress.

“The Government’s recent Apprenticeship Standards Trailblazer, for example, means employers are developing new easy-to-understand standards that emphasise the importance of apprentices achieving a consistently high competency level by the time they complete the scheme.

“The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is also working with other engineering organisations to drive up professional recognition of the UK’s technician workforce through professional registration requiring a high-level apprenticeship qualification. The aim is to register 100,000 world-class skilled professional engineering technicians by 2018.

“All companies now need to take joint responsibility for addressing the skills gap by taking advantage of these schemes. Many already are. Apprenticeships are more popular than ever before. What we need now is universal industry recognition that they are a valued and recognised route into engineering, rather than a ‘poor cousin’ to the more conventional degree route.

“But the skills shortage will not be solved by apprenticeships alone. The root of the problem actually begins much earlier than this – when young people are selecting their GCSEs and A Levels. Far too few school children, particularly girls, are choosing subject like maths and physics, which means they are effectively closing the door to the 2.74 million engineering job openings that will be available between 2010 and 2020.

“That’s why the IET invests a great deal of time and resource into attracting more young people into engineering via awards, prizes and scholarships.

“To close the skills gap, we need to find the balance between attracting young people to the engineering profession in the first place – and then finding the most effective ways to equip them with the skills they need, including through advanced-level, high-quality apprenticeships. It’s a big challenge – and one government, industry, school, universities and professional engineering institutions will continue to work together to address.”