Shortfall of one million engineers by 2030

16th August 2023
Paige West

Britain is on the brink of an engineering skills crisis that threatens to delay major infrastructure projects unless it addresses how the sector is seen.

Demand for engineering expertise is on the rise, with 184 major engineering projects announced in the UK since 2020. These projects have a total value of £542 billion and are expected to create 1.2 million jobs.  

However, the sector faces a shortfall of one million engineers by 2030 due to the impending retirement of a fifth (20%) of the existing engineering workforce over the next five years, coupled with a struggle to fill 59,000 engineering roles a year.  

Stonehaven says its research reveals an urgent need for the sector to tackle negative sector perceptions with the younger generation and think again about how a career in engineering is promoted to the next generation.

Polling by Stonehaven reveals engineering came out top when people were asked to rank professions they most admired. It was ranged against similarly skilled professions such as designers, software developers and architects.

But while 80% of people expressed high admiration for the industry, two thirds, 66%, said they had never thought of a career in the sector.

Across the age groups, Gen Z were the most reluctant to consider a career in engineering, with 30% saying they would not choose it. A third, 34%, thought the sector was too male dominated, while 32% were put off by the idea of engineering being a maths and science related job.

Among Millennials 19% said they would not consider a career in engineering and 28% still thought of the sector as too male dominated. However, 28% said they were simply not aware of job opportunities in the sector.

However, Stonehaven’s research also revealed that, alongside a good salary, younger generations are more motivated by the idea of ‘shaping their town, than saving the world’ when choosing a job.  

Among Gen Z and Millennials, 40% are searching for a new job with the opportunity to improve their local area, which suggests that promoting engineering as a job with the power to transform communities for the better will encourage more younger joiners and help close the growing recruitment gap.

James Ruane, Stonehaven’s Managing Partner of Communications and Campaigns, said whilst the research suggests that engineering is not getting the credit it serves, an urgent evolution of sector recruitment is needed.

“A quarter of those we polled said engineering had a ‘branding problem’,” he said, “While the numbers of women in the engineering workforce have almost doubled in a decade, it is still viewed by too many in the younger generation as being a male dominated sector.

"Our findings underscore the urgency of raising awareness among the younger generation not only of the opportunities across the sector but also the diversity of its workforce.

“Engineering boosts local community prosperity and is a hidden benefit that job seekers haven’t associated it with before. Recruitment that focuses on engineering as a profession as a force for and the power to transform communities for the better, would help close the admiration and relatability gap of the sector.” 

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