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New engineering society calls for measures to combat STEM shortage in the UK

A new group comprised of 39 British engineering organisations, the National Engineering Policy Centre has announced its first manifesto – calling on the UK Government to deliver on a number of issues related to STEM industries and the economy.

The group – formed in January 2019 – represents 450,000 engineers and has called on policymakers to ensure the UK retains an adequate supply of engineering talent.

The shortage of STEM workers is estimated to be costing businesses £1.5 billion a year, according to a 2018 study by educational group STEM Learning – and with Brexit looming the 560,000 STEM roles currently occupied by EU nationals, may need to be filled at short notice.

The manifesto, published on August 27th, calls for 20 actions across five key policy areas including:

–      An increase in funding for Innovate UK – to boost productivity.

–      Deliver a fast and resilient digital infrastructure

–      Set out alternative plans to meet the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs.

–      Invest in the demonstration and deployment of new low-carbon heat, charging of electric vehicles and carbon capture and storage technologies.

Professor Dame Ann Dowling, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“From skills and infrastructure to energy and climate change, engineering expertise is critical to the challenges the UK faces, and the engineering profession stands ready to help policymakers navigate these. The issues we have identified here require long-term planning and action, irrespective of how the UK’s relationship with the European Union changes over the next few months.

“The actions we propose today will enable the UK to make investment decisions that will create jobs and prosperity and drive sustainability, helping to build an economy and society ready to face the future. We look forward to working with policymakers from across the political spectrum to achieve these aims.”

Recruitment agency STEM Returners have been a company at the forefront of bridging the gap between vacant roles and qualified STEM workers in the UK, with their unique programme that aims to return engineers to work following a career break.

The company has had particular success at placing women into engineering roles, where currently they only occupy one in ten positions.

STEM Shortage, how the numbers add up.

Natalie Desty, Director of STEM Returners, said:

“We welcome the call for action from the National Engineering Policy Centre, in particular, the focus on implementing the recommendations of the Perkins Review.

“The UK has a significant skills gap and at STEM Returners we are committed to ensuring we help both prospective and existing engineers who may have fallen out of the industry back into roles.

“50% of the roles in the government’s Shortage Occupation List are engineering positions.

Ensuring we plug the skills gap in the UK is crucial to creating a vibrant and dynamic STEM sector.”