UK engineering recruitment is currently suffering from a chronic skill shortage that hampers not just the country’s productivity, but also its economic recovery. The alarming picture was raised by Kevin Green, chief executive of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The United Kingdom is known for having a splendid heritage of engineering excellence dating back to the age of the Industrial Revolution. The country is the beacon of innovation, specialized production, at the forefront of manufacturing excellence.

Engineering UK’s The State of Engineering 2016 report claims that the need is far from greater: the UK engineering recruitment shortage was projected to be a looming 1.8 million talents by 2025. They will need to find 182,000 skilled professionals every year up to 2022.

The great investment in infrastructure created a myriad of opportunities for skilled engineers. But with the high demand is a short supply to improve an ageing workforce. 2018 has been “a year of engineering” for the UK government to campaign for engineering skills gap and to further widen the pool of young people to join the profession.

The Root Cause


The shortage of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills have cost a lot in recruitment and staffing costs. In a survey of 400 HR executives in the UK engineering recruitment sector, 89% have struggled to hire engineers with the required skills in the last 12 months. Yvonne Baker, CEO of STEM Learning and an IChemE Member, tagged this as a storm for STEM businesses in the UK, a “very real skills crisis.”

The overabundance of UK engineering jobs delayed a lot of high-profile projects, making a great impact on the profitability of companies. In the field of civil engineering, it initially wreaks havoc on the construction of public spaces and services. The only way the skills crisis can be corrected is when a new batch of highly-qualified engineers join the workforce. Industry leaders need to recognize first the engineering crisis and to apply a concerted effort to bridge the gap.

Apart from a longer recruitment process, many companies are already forced to utilize a more expensive temporary staffing, to hire workers from lower levels, and to inflate the salaries just to attract the right talents. Worse comes to worse, many companies will soon hire candidates without any STEM background or just leave hard-to-fill vacancies empty.

Attracting migrant workers from skill-rich countries and improving diversity in the workplace, plus an outstanding employment practice could promote talent attraction throughout the sector. Nurturing and developing UK engineering recruitment by building a strong talent pool from overseas could eventually secure the industry. Global engineering recruitment is on the rise to fill the looming skills shortage.

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