Dr Graham Herries
Co-Chair, The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) Education and Skills Policy Panel
In the UK alone, there is an annual shortfall of 59,000 new engineers and technicians¹, which presents a huge opportunity to develop the skills of young people to fill emerging roles and critical skills gap.
The lack of new engineers means we should strive to create the next generation. Engineers will be the key to recovering our economy in the post-pandemic world. Even within engineering currently, there are some strong growth sectors including climate change and sustainability. To fill their potential, we must act now to create skills for the future.
According to the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s skills for net zero and a green recovery, employers are divided as to what type of skills their organisation will need in order to deliver their sustainability strategy. Equal proportions cited the need for innovative thinking (62%), management strategic skills (60%), and agility skills (60%).2
Identifying skills needed within businesses
In response to how these businesses will create these skills, 32% said they would recruit apprentices and provide training.3 Of these, 45% of larger companies said they would hire an apprentice to engage in the UK education system, with 23% of SMEs stating the same.4
The value of an apprenticeship in engineering is important. According to the survey, businesses feel university graduates are less likely to understand the realities of work in their industry than apprentices. This is because of the ‘on-the-job’ work experience apprenticeships gain whilst completing their courses.
Apprenticeships are the key to cutting our annual shortfall and to creating the key skills for the future economy.
1 https://www.theiet.org/media/4812/skills-survey2019.pdf | 2 https://www.theiet.org/media/7605/iet-skills-for-net-zero-and-a-green-recovery.pdf| 3 Ibid | 4 Ibid