07 August 2014
Engineers 'in high demand'
Engineers are hard to come by. That's the overall conclusion of a survey undertaken by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
The positive message from the annual 'Skills and Demand in Industry' survey was that over half of the 400 companies asked said that they were actively recruiting, but this was tempered by increasing difficulty in finding suitably qualified recruits.
In all the main categories it has become progressively more difficult to find the right engineers over the past three years. The most difficult positions to fill were for senior engineers with five to ten years experience, where nearly 80% of companies had difficulties filling the posts – up 28% from 2011. Recruiting engineering managers is equally becoming more difficult (46%) compared with a 2011 figure of 21%.
In fact 37% did not expect to find the right staff in the next 12 months. The main reasons for this being the lack of suitable qualified candidates (65%) and shortages in specific skills (50%).
Other notable findings included the lack of progress in attracting women into engineering. Only 6% of the engineering staff are female, a static figure over the past four years, and the number of engineering apprentices has dropped to just 1%. 23% of companies take no measures to promote gender diversity and a further 20% simply employ the best candidate, so 43% do not actively encourage female engineers.
Nigel Fine, IET chief executive, said: "Promoting engineering to women is particularly important given how few currently work as engineers, so it's disappointing to see that so many employers are taking no real action to improve diversity. They need to take urgent steps to improve recruitment and retention of women, for example by promoting flexible and part time working, together with planned routes of progression that can accommodate career breaks."
When asked specifically about measures to attract women into engineering, some companies did mention female ambassadors to schools (16%) and specific targeted campaigns (16%). However, when asked the question about how to address the shortage of engineers, the potential offered by the female half of the population was again ignored. Despite 59% of companies believing the shortage represented a threat to their business, 28% thought there was nothing they could do about it (see Fig 1), while 28% thought the most positive action would be to promote to graduates.
Fine added: "Demand for engineers in the UK remains high. Research from Engineering UK suggests we need to find 87,000 new engineers each year for the next decade, so now is the time to act."