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Engineering campaign to encourage young people into sector

Action is needed to address the chronic shortage of engineering skills in the UK, a new review urges. The Perkins Review was published at the start of the new national campaign ‘Tomorrow’s Engineers Week’, aimed at promoting engineering careers to young people.

The government is providing £250,000 funding for Tomorrow’s Engineers, which will help the organisation to work with schools. This includes £49m funding to improve engineering skills and £30m for employers to bid for to address skills shortages across the sector.

Professor John Perkins, chief scientific adviser to BIS, called for more young people to study maths and science, and set out 22 recommendations to meet skills shortages.

He said: “I have highlighted the challenges currently faced by the engineering industry and the importance of all partners working together. Employers, educators and professional bodies in the industry should take note and get involved.”

The review states: “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.”

Business secretary Vince Cable said: “We cannot do this alone, so I am calling on employers and education professionals to get involved and inspire the next generation of engineers.

“Engineering has a vital role to play in the future of UK industry. It is important that we act now to ensure businesses have access to the skills they require to enable them to grow.”

Stephen Tetlow, chief executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “The UK urgently needs 87,000 new engineers every year to give our economy any chance of future growth, yet we currently only manage to recruit 51,000. As each day goes by, the UK loses 100 skilled engineers.

“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 added that it was “far from certain” that all the recommendations will be achieved.

“But 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.”

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