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Skills shortage

Unite finds major engineering skills gap
Hajera Blagg, Monday, November 17th, 2014

As the economy begins to pick up again, engineering skills will be in high demand.




But if something isn’t done soon, Unite has said in a new report launched in Parliament today (November 17) that there will be too many jobs without the skilled workers needed to fill them.




The report found that the UK will need 87,000 new engineers every year over the next decade. The rate of engineering graduates and apprentices currently being trained every year is half that figure.




Unite, in conjunction with professional organisations such as Engineering UK, has called for specific measures to revitalise engineering in the country.




These measures include an “engineered in Britain, bought in Britain” approach to public procurement, as well as a specially designed investment bank that supports small- and medium-sized engineering enterprises, and taking steps to ensure more women are attracted into engineering.




The report moreover called on UK businesses to shorten supply chains and bring back jobs they’ve offshored abroad, in order to fulfill customer demands more efficiently.




Unite argued in the report that engineering needs continued investment and support from government because it brings to the labour market skilled, well-paying jobs—engineering apprentices while training earn an average of £6.23 per hour, while the average apprentice in all other professions earns just £2.65.





What’s more, starting salaries in engineering are significantly higher than average and engineering professionals are much more likely to be in full-time employment than workers in all other fields.




Unite national officer Linda McCulloch argued that supporting engineering will be a boon to the economy.




“We need urgent action to close the engineering skills gap to ensure we rebalance the economy and have sustainable growth,” she said.  “As our report suggests a lack of a joined up, robust industrial policy means the UK is still excessively reliant on service sector jobs and is contributing to the creation of a low wage, low skilled economy.”




McCulloch hailed the report, which will be launched in Parliament by Ian Wright, MP for Hartlepool, and added that it was a perfect example of trade unions and professional organisations working together to offer the government viable solutions to economic problems.




“This report is the first time Unite representatives and key industry players such as the EEF, Engineering UK and SEMTA, have come together to develop a coherent strategy to drive UK engineering forward,” she said.


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