Keywords: engineering skills, skill shortages and gaps, SARTOR, technologists
Future skill requirements for UK engineers and technologists: a review of the current position
In view of the rapidly changing technology environment and the time lag to change educational direction, there is an urgent need to predict the future skills required by UK engineers and technologists. However, before such studies are carried out, it is necessary to review the work done to date by various government agencies, professional bodies and industry. This paper reviews some of the issues that require clarification, including which courses should be studied at engineering degree level and, in turn, how to recruit undergraduates into engineering, especially into EngTech and IEng jobs. It explores the basic problems facing the economy today in relation to the skills of the engineering and technology workforce. Skill shortages and skill gaps are becoming more and more important in our increasingly competitive world. It is the role of the newly formed Engineering and Technology Board (ETB) to work together with other organisations to help overcome these shortages. The UK has the opportunity to continue to build a highly skilled workforce because of the high quality of its universities and other centres providing higher education. However, not enough students are interested in taking engineering subjects and industry is concerned that graduates are leaving higher education establishments without the required skill sets. The paper brings together a small selection of the information that is available on the topic but it is not a definitive list. It is only an overview, indicating how much research already exists, how many different studies there have been and why a change in the current ideas about skill requirements is needed. It indicates that the UK must constantly change the skills of its work force because of international competition, globalisation and also because most universities and schools do not deliver the skills that industry wants.