Rising demand for engineers has driven a 36% leap in the number of engineers coming to the UK from outside the EU over the last year, official Home Office figures reveal
While businesses often turn to skilled Umbrella Company employees and others from the professional contracting community to plug skills gaps when permanent talent is unavailable, home-grown engineers are now in such short supply that demand is outstripping their availability. As a result, 1,171 engineers from non-EU countries came to the UK in 2013, rising from 859 in the previous year and representing the biggest rise since the global downturn struck in 2008.
Commenting on the figures, Simon Curry, CEO of specialist contractor accounting firm SJD Accountancy, said that government plans to significantly expand the infrastructure over the coming decades were at risk if the UK could not match the demand for engineering skills. The recession, Mr Curry continued, afforded an opportunity for employers and government to address the chronic underproduction of engineers in the UK, adding: “However, we are still seeing too many UK-trained engineers choosing other careers or leaving the country after they have qualified.”
£375bn has been earmarked in the National Infrastructure Plan for infrastructure projects up to and beyond 2030. Mr Curry added: “With the government determined to increase expenditure on major infrastructure projects, the holes in the UK’s engineering skills base are being brutally exposed. Just 8.5% of engineers are women – the lowest in the EU – so there is clearly much more that could be done to promote engineering careers in the UK and reduce our dependence on foreign skills.”