UK engineering ‘called to action’ to secure its future

Published:  12 November, 2014

The engineering profession has undergone profound changes over the past 15 years and is now making an even greater contribution to the economy and society than could have been anticipated, according to a new report published by Engineering the Future, an alliance of leading engineering organisations.

Engineering is no longer just about hard hats and hi-visibility vests, yet the way it is portrayed in society and seen by policymakers has not kept up with this evolution, says The Universe of Engineering. The report shows how engineering skills are now needed in an increasingly diverse range of fields including brain imaging, airport security, drug delivery systems, materials science and prosthetic limbs.

In its ‘call to action,’ The Universe of Engineering urges the professional engineering institutions (PEIs) to adapt so that they better represent and develop engineers involved in such exciting and rapidly developing fields, and use this as a springboard to attract more people into the profession.

The UK is facing an unprecedented skills crisis, says the report. Analysis by the Royal Academy of Engineering suggests the UK will need over a million new engineers and technicians by 2020 and EngineeringUK research shows this will require a doubling of the number of annual engineering graduates and apprentices. This will require a step change in the effort to attract young people into the engineering and it must start with coordinated, inspiring messaging to the public that truly captures the real nature and breadth of engineering in the 21st century.

Dame Sue Ion DBE FREng, Chair of the working group that produced the report, says: “As engineers underpin an increasing number of different parts of the economy and society, the engineering community and professional engineering institutions must adapt to represent and support those in both traditional and non-traditional engineering roles.

“The engineering profession now has a critical opportunity to identify and put into place a framework for the new model of engineering, with its increasing inter-disciplinarity and pervasive reach.”

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