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Skills shortage will have bigger impact than automation or new materials, say surveyed engineers

Professional Engineering

(Credit: Shutterstock)
(Credit: Shutterstock)

The skills shortage will have a bigger impact on UK engineering than automation or new materials over the next five years, according to 37% of engineers surveyed for new research.

The study of 250 engineers by MPA, a professional business services company, found 22% thought automation would have the biggest impact on their sector up to 2025. 17% thought development of new materials would be most important, while 10% said data usage and 4% cybersecurity.

With a reported annual cost of £1.5bn to UK businesses, MPA said it was “no surprise” that the skills shortage was the most cited factor.

“Engineering companies in the UK are respected all over the world for their quality and innovation, but we need to ensure that as an industry we are recruiting the best and brightest minds into roles across the sector,” said Nigel Urquhart, senior technical analyst at MPA.

“Stem education and training support are vital for making sure the UK’s economy continues to thrive and will play a key part in ensuring the UK reaches the current government target of 2.4% of GDP being spent on R&D by 2027.”

Of the surveyed engineers, 56% claimed their company does not use sources of R&D funding or support, such as Innovate UK, crowdfunding or Local Enterprise Partnerships. The research also found that 21% of actively innovating engineering firms are not taking advantage of the government’s R&D Tax Credit scheme, which allows companies to claim back up to 33p for every £1 spent on R&D activity.

“The UK is currently lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to innovation, research and development, and this could be because so many eligible companies are not utilising the financial support available,” said Urquhart.

“Initiatives like the R&D Tax Credit scheme allow businesses to free up vital funds that can be used to fund further innovation, which could help ensure UK engineering stays at the forefront of the industry.”


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Content published by Professional Engineering does not necessarily represent the views of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. 

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