Industry ‘too reliant’ on migrant workers, warns report

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The UK's engineering sector is relying too heavily on migrant workers to fill as many as one in five skilled jobs, a major government-backed review has warned.

Commissioned by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and led by its chief scientific advisor Professor John Perkins, pictured, the review calls for government, industry and educators to 'step up' to inspire future engineering talent and address skills shortages. It also highlights the fact that the UK has a lower proportion of female workers in the industry than any other country in Europe – fewer than one in 10. Prof Perkins said: "There is clearly a substantial demand for engineers in the UK economy. I hope this report will be a call to action that will bring engineering employers, the profession and educators together, to own and collectively shape a future in which our supply of engineers grows in quality as well as quantity." Perkins' 22 recommendations call for both short and long term action to 'get the right messages to young people' - particularly girls, to ensure vocational training is high quality and high status. The review has been welcomed by industry as a whole, with IET chief executive Nigel Fine describing it as a 'clear way forward' to close the skills gap. Stephen Tetlow, chief executive of the IMechE, said he hoped people would see the review as a foundation to help promote, inspire and encourage more people into industry. "If we do not meet the shortfall in skills we won't just slip down the scale of world competitiveness, we will fall off the cliff," he warned. "If we fail in this task, we risk not only a lost generation of British engineering talent, but also a rapid and irreversible decline in UK competitiveness and our national infrastructure." BIS has said it will commit £49million to boost engineering skills in the UK. Around £30m of the money will be used to allow employers to bid for match funding for training schemes to address specific engineering skills shortages. Another £18m will fund an elite training facility in Coventry. The full report can be downloaded below.