Another warning that the UK is facing a recovery-hobbling shortage of engineering skills has emerged, this time in a new report from the 450,000-strong industry body Engineering The Future (ETF).

An immediate implication for freelance engineers contracting though Umbrella Companies is that they can expect demand for their talents to remain exceptionally strong for the foreseeable future. Many highly-skilled engineers with over 30 years of experience behind them are scheduled to retire over the coming five years, leaving a potential skills vacuum behind them.

The study, which draws from the experience of some of the biggest manufacturing companies in the UK ‒ including Coca-Cola Enterprises and Logicor Group ‒ has led Engineering The Future to urge rapid action by the government to avert the prospect of significant harm to the manufacturing sector.

The body calls for increased co-operation between schools, businesses and government to improve engineering schemes. The current emphasis on preparing undergraduates to pass exams is, ETF argues, neglecting the key role of “real world applications”, which would equip them with valuable skills rather than just high test scores.

Commenting on the report, the chief executive of the Design & Technology Association, Richard Green, said that the report’s findings would come as “no surprise” to either business or government. He continued: “While it’s true that not enough young people are leaving school with the skills or motivation to pursue a career in engineering, the responsibility to more closely link the classroom with the workplace should not sit solely with the government.”

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