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Huge spike in engineering vacancies puts sector on red alert

Engineering sector facing long-term people crisis 

While impressive growth in engineering vacancies is indicative of the Government’s commitment to the UKs infrastructure network, APSCo’s data reveals that future projects - including HS2 and the expansion of Heathrow – risk being scuppered by a lack of available talent.  With reports citing an already present skills shortage, as well as a potential brain drain from the UK into other European engineering hubs, a critical long term people crisis is on the horizon. 

This is a sentiment reflected in APSCo member, Matchtech’s, recent Confidence Index. The recruiter found that professionals are not only already contemplating finding work abroad, but they are also doubtful that the UK will remain an engineering word leader. Managing director, Matthew Hancock, commented, “Our recent Confidence Index found that over three quarters of UK engineers are doubtfulthat enough is being done by the Government to attract new talent to the engineering industry. Over half of all the engineers surveyed said they would either definitely or possibly be prepared to move overseas for work and nearly two thirds believe the UK will cease to be an engineering world leader in the future.”

Government tactics will be & lsquo;too little too late’

APSCo has also warned that, whilst the Government appears to be acknowledging the need to increase the UKs engineering skills base, its plans will be too late to address the current problems.  The trade association believes that the proposed new HS2 further education college, for example, which is due to open its doors in 2017 may be an innovative solution, but it will go no way in meeting the headcount demands the industry is contending with.

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented, “The investment the Government is pumping into our infrastructure network can only be positive news for the UK, but only if this is backed up with the necessary manpower to enable projects to happen. As it currently stands major initiatives which, in the long run, will create hundreds if not thousands of jobs, risk being halted or even axed unless action is taken imminently.  We are already facing a brain drain from the UK engineering sector and this will only exacerbate if the Government and business leaders don’t take action now.”

John Nurthen, executive director International Development for Staffing Industry Analysts, who compile the report for APSCo, said, “What we see happening in the UK is happening in other countries as well. Engineering jobs have a strong growth trajectory internationally and skilled British engineers are in high demand to work on these projects. In a global market for engineering talent, the UK is now faced with many challenges in order to both retain and attract those with specialist skills.”

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