UK faces engineering skills crisis

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UK industry has a deficit of 10,000 engineering students and apprentices per year, according to training organisations Semta and the Aviation Skills Partnership (ASP), which are attempting to bridge the gap.

The deficit continues despite the number of international students coming to the UK to study.

At the recent Farnborough air show, the two organisations signed a memorandum of understanding and pledged to work together to promote engineering-related aviation careers, apprenticeship frameworks and other opportunities to young people, with the aim of increasing the flow of British talent into the sector.

Semta says the UK technology sector has need for 100,000 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) graduates every year, but only generates 90,000 – including international students.

Semta helps 138,000 UK employers connect with young talent and access education and training. The ASP performs a similar role for aerospace and aviation companies, linking them also with government schemes supporting employers that provide initial and advanced employee training.

Ann Watson, chief operating officer of Semta, says: “This is a pivotal partnership which will boost these vital sectors for the foreseeable future.

“The UK is coming under increasing pressure from overseas markets due to a lack of specialist skills. We aim to reduce these pressures by maintaining a skills pipeline of talented young people that will ensure companies can continue to secure orders and deliver on deadlines.”

Simon Witts, chief executive of ASP, adds: “I am delighted we are able to reach these accords to work together, and I look forward to jointly shaping our innovative industry-led programmes.

“There is a critical need for skilled aviation engineers, and the UK has an enviable reputation for producing some of the best – we look forward to helping a new generation to gain the skills they need to enter this exciting sector.”