Utility Week

Utility Week 6th February 2015

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

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6 | 6th - 12th February 2015 | utILIty WeeK People & Opinion Engineering in the UK: there's good news and there's bad news… Engineers power the economy, but the UK suffers a chronic shortage of young engineering talent. Chief executive's view Paul Jackson, Engineering UK B ritain is great at engineer- ing. This isn't just my view. Engineering UK 2015 The State of Engineering, a detailed analysis of the engineering sec- tor that we have been producing annually for the past 16 years, has shown that engineering continues to make a significant contribution to the economy. At £1.17 trillion, it accounts for a quarter (24.9 per cent) of UK turnover and continues to grow (latest figures put annual growth at 6.7 per cent). There are 5.4 million people employed in engineering in the UK across a range of sectors, each with a vital contribution to make and each with its own challenges. Wind, wave and tidal power currently employ 34,500 people and have the potential to create 70,000 more jobs over the next decade. The oil and gas industry supports some 450,000 jobs across the economy and if the Institute of Directors' pre- diction is accurate, shale gas production could create 74,000 jobs. Furthermore, every new job in engineering generates a further two jobs elsewhere in the economy. That's the good news, but let's not get carried away. The fact is that even with this level of employment in the industry, we still need more engineers – 1.82 million more in the decade to 2022. Pro rata, that's 182,000 people a year which, at the cur- rent rate of supply, means an annual shortfall of 55,000. Our new commissioned research, undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Busi- ness Research, shows that filling the demand for new engineering jobs will generate an additional £27 billion a year from 2022 for the UK economy. That's equiva- lent to building 1,800 schools or 110 hospitals. It's clear that there is much to gain, but there is also much to do. It's that good news/ bad news scenario again. The number of students in science, technology, engineering and maths is increasing, but far too slowly. If we are to meet the needs of the industry we must double the number of engineer- ing apprentices and graduates entering the industry. We must double the number of young people studying GCSE physics and we need more of them to continue to A level. If we are to meet the future demand for engineers, more must be done to inform and inspire young people today and there needs to be more support for the teachers and careers advi- sors. The better they understand the career opportunities the bet- ter they can advise and inspire the young people who look to them for guidance. The Tomorrow's Engineers programme sees employers and professional engineering institu- tions working together to reach even more schools with careers information, inspiration and outreach activity. The network includes Eon and EDF Energy, National Grid (supporting the network with the secondment of a programme director) and Shell, which is investing £1 million. Research shows that this kind of coordinated approach triples the impact of such outreach and we need that kind of impact if there's to be more good news than bad in the future. "A moratorium on drilling and hydraulic fracturing will do nothing to resolve the current stalemate over the question of developing the UK's shale gas potential. Instead it will create a Catch-22 whereby there is no drilling because of environmen- tal concerns, but because there is no drilling we don't know what the environmental impacts are under UK conditions." Professor Michael Bradshaw, Warwick business School

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