Government report highlights shortage of engineers in the UK

The UK is suffering from a shortage of engineers and more should be done to encourage young people to choose the profession as a career, a review commissioned by the Government has said.

The report by John Perkins, chief scientific adviser to the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), said that there is "substantial demand" for engineers in Britain, and girls in particular should be encouraged to join the profession.

It noted that the UK has become increasingly reliant on foreign migrants to cover the shortfall in British-born engineers, with those from abroad accounting for a fifth of the workforce in oil and gas extraction, computer, electronic and optical engineering.

The review said that hiring in workers from overseas should not be a long-term solution.

"We should support the UK's young people by preparing them to compete for highly-paid skilled engineering jobs, improving their career prospects and reducing the need to import engineering skills," the review said.

The specialist nature of engineering means that maths and science skills needed to qualify as an engineer must be acquired years before entering the profession, the report noted.

However, it does suggest that professionals who have acquired similar skills could be encouraged to "convert" to engineering.

Encouraging those who have left the profession to return to engineering as well as investing in those currently working in the sector is also suggested by the report.

The review additionally highlights the fact that Britain has the lowest proportion of female engineers in the EU and it has called for measures to enable more women to take up the profession.

Less than 10% of engineers in the UK are women, the report says.

Perceptions of engineering, gender stereotyping from career advisers, as well as A-Level choices, may all play a factor in the disparity between men and women in the sector, it is believed.

Copyright Press Association 2013