One of the UK's most prominent engineering bodies says British industry faces an imminent skills crisis as skilled technical personnel head toward retirement.
UK-based organisation Engineering the Future said the imminent departure of a large cohort of British engineers approaching retirement age will result in an acute skills shortage.
The group notes in its Insight into Modern Manufacturing report that a large group of technical personnel with three or more decades of experience under the belt are currently approaching the end of their careers “in large numbers.”
The report said this skills shortage will be further exacerbated by a lack of fresh graduates to make up for retiring engineers as a result of widespread misconceptions amongst the young about the nature of engineering work, as well as the levels of remuneration and security it provides.
The group was highly critical of the way engineering courses are taught at British territory institutions, saying this has contributed to the negative reputation of the profession.
According to the report, engineering graduates are now merely “taught to pass exams,” without receiving much substantive training in practical skills.
The group has called for the government to take steps towards incorporating more “real world applications” into engineering education.
Engineering the Future is one of the UK’s largest and most influential industry bodies, with a membership of more than 450,000. The group encompasses the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
The report’s conclusions are based on case studies on and insights provided by some of the biggest companies operating in Britain, including Coca-Cola Enterprises and Logicor Group.
The report follows closely on warnings from members of British business and industry that a worsening shortage of engineering skills could stymie the nascent recovery of national industry.
Sir James Dyson, the eponymous founder of Dyson, said his company is unable to fill all of the positions at its UK head office using local talent after tripling the number of engineers it employed within just the past three years.
The CBI, Britain’s largest business lobby, has called for reduced university fees for science, technology, engineering and maths courses in order to encourage more students to acquire technical skills.