Engineering graduate numbers 'need to double' by 2020

The UK needs to double the annual number of graduates in engineering by 2020 if it is to meet the expected demand for such skills, the government was told today.

According to a report from EngineeringUK, engineering companies are projected to have 2.74 million job openings from 2010 to 2020, and of these approximately 87,000 per year will require people with degree qualifications. Currently the UK produces only 46,000 engineering graduates each year.

"What the report makes clear is the need to lay the groundwork early," said EngineeringUK chief executive, Paul Jackson.

"This means doubling the numbers of young people studying GCSE physics as part of triple science, growing the numbers of students studying physics A level and providing robust and consistent careers information for young people that promotes the diversity of engineering careers available and the variety of routes to those careers," he added.

The report also highlights a shortage of specialist school teachers in physics. The pool of students taking physics is two-and-a-half times smaller than that taking maths, and the emphasis must be on increasing this if the UK is to grow degree numbers in physics, it adds.

The organisation's flagship annual report Engineering UK: the state of engineering 2013 was launched at an event at No 11 Downing Street, hosted by business minister Michael Fallon, and attended by chief executives from across UK engineering.

The group discussed the report's findings and actions needed.

Mr Fallon highlighted government efforts in engineering, included an extension to students of the Talent Retention Scheme, which helps engineers leaving the defence sector to find new jobs.

According to the report, engineering companies' turnover was £1.06 trillion in the year ending March 2011, accounting for 23.9 per cent of the turnover of all UK enterprises and three times the size of the retail sector.

It adds that the starting salary for engineering and technology graduates is 15.7 per cent more than the average for all graduates.

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