UK severely lacking in engineers warns Royal Academy

1.25 million science, engineering and technology professionals needed by 2020, but the UK is failing to produce enough graduates

The UK is in need of 1.25 million science, engineering and technology professionals and technicians by 2020; but will not hit this target the Royal Academy of Engineering has warned.

Research from the Academy estimates 830,000 graduate-level STEM experts and 450,000 technicians are required.

The report called Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy concluded that the UK is not producing enough engineers.

According to the study 100,000 STEM graduates will be required each year, to maintain the status quo of the economy. This is in addition to a further 60,000 students that are needed with level 3+ (mostly equivalent to A-Level) qualifications in STEM subjects.

However, currently only 90,000 STEM students graduate annually and a quarter of engineering students choose non-science, engineering and technology (SET) occupations.

John Parker, president of the Academy, said the UK needs an increase in the number of STEM graduates over the next 10 years to rebalance the economy: “I am delighted to see that the government is taking on board the message that a proper industrial strategy is essential for effective and sustained economic recovery.

“Only with such a framework and vision in place can we create the pull that defines our future educational and skills needs. We must encourage employers to work with universities with the aim of producing more engineers.”

The report also argues that the UK is slipping in terms of global innovation due to a lack of engineers. In the UK 23,000 engineers graduate annually, whereas India is producing eight times as many and China is delivering 20 times as many engineering graduates. This means that UK firms have to look abroad for the experts they need.

Matthew Harrison, director of engineering and education at the Academy was the author of the report. He explained: "As rising wages and wide distribution of SET occupations in the economy show, STEM qualifications are portable and valuable.

“All young people should have access to them as a means of social mobility and to strengthen the economy. Their importance to both individuals and the economy justifies a history of government intervention to address the shortage of people with STEM qualifications."


Read more on IT technical skills