Engineering firms are expressing concerns that the Brexit effect will result in an engineering skills shortage in the sector, a recent survey has revealed.
The 2016 IET skills survey carried out by the Institution of Engineering and Technology has shown that there is a fear that British “homegrown talent” will lack key knowledge.
The report highlights the fact that employers feel there will be a skills shortage in engineering, not a lack of recruits:
“Businesses continue to express confidence in recruiting the employees they need – but have greater concern about the skills, knowledge and experience of school leavers/ apprentices, graduates and postgraduates.”
The survey, which questioned more than 400 employers of engineering and technology staff, stated that 62 per cent of British graduates did not meet employer expectations and 68 per cent are concerned that the UK education system will struggle to keep up with evolving trends in the engineering sector as countries within the EU collaborate.
As reported by CNBC, 35 per cent of respondents said that they believed their recruitment will be adversely affected over the next half a decade as Britain will become increasingly cut off from the European engineering workforce.
However, 5 per cent did feel that Brexit would have a positive impact on recruitment, 23 per cent said there would be no impact, and 36 per cent were unsure.
President of the IET Naomi Climer said:
“Demand for engineers is high but the report reveals deeper concern than ever around the skills and experience of our future workforce.
As we are facing an engineering shortfall in the next decade and some uncertainty around skills following Brexit, it is more important than ever that we develop the next generation of ‘home grown’ engineering and technology talent.”
Amongst the executives questioned for the survey are Robert White, Senior Manager of Electronic Systems at Elekta Ltd, and Andy Taylor, Chief Engineer at Amec Foster Wheeler.
White advised against panic, saying that:
“No immediate change is expected here. We do have a relatively large number of EU citizens working in our business, and whilst I am confident their right to remain working in the UK will be unaffected, it’s possible that a small minority may decide to move to work within the European Union.”
However, Taylor expressed more concern over the impact of Brexit:
“We have projects that require the free movement of our people to EU assignments. If it becomes harder to send people to non-UK sites then we may have to do things differently.”
Keith Wells, Chief Executive Officer of Scientific Management Associates, has said that his company has “already made changes to [their] business in the wake of the decision to leave the EU.”
The report also highlights diversity issues within the field, saying that it “remains a huge challenge for the sector”.
According to the report, women only account for 9 per cent of all engineering and technology employees, 63 per cent of businesses do not have gender diversity initiatives, and 73 per cent do not have any kind of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) or ethnic diversity initiative in place.
An indicator on how employers will proceed is that 91 per cent of companies agreed in the survey that more employers need to provide work experience for those in education or training in order to improve the supply of engineers and technicians, Energy Global reports.