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Engineering in the UK - Mind the Gap

From Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird to Michael Faraday and James Dyson; the UK has been home to some of the world’s most famous engineers throughout history who have revolutionised technology.

In fact the UK currently has the 6th largest electronics industry in the world, with over 1 million related jobs and an annual turnover of £98 billion, making up 6% of the overall GDP. 

14 of the world’s top 20 semiconductor companies also have design or manufacturing sites based here, with 90% of smart phones containing electronics designed on these shores.

That all seemingly points to a very rosy looking outlook for engineering in the UK, but the messages coming from the majority of electronics and technology companies who are hiring does not reflect this.

Mind The Gap



Alex Depledge is one such employer, having co-founded the online platform Hassle in 2012, before selling it three years later for £24m. She is now an entrepreneur in residence at Index Ventures, and chair of The Coalition for a Digital Economy.

Speaking to the BBC Alex said, “Engineers are the lifeblood of technology companies and they are in such short supply in the UK.

“If you get another big technology company come in to town then the first thing that I do is inwardly grown, as I know that it will be even harder for me to recruit the talent that I need to grow my business and get it towards that kind of level. 

“We literally had engineering vacancies open for six months, because we couldn’t find the engineers."

On Tuesday the Institution of Engineering and Technology released their eleventh annual ‘Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry report’, which revealed some extremely worrying statistics about the engineering education sector in the United Kingdom. 62% of engineering employers say graduates don’t have the right skills for today’s workplace, while 68% are concerned that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change.

Depledge believes that the government should be focusing their time on helping to ensure that the country has the depth of engineers to fulfil the nation’s requirements.

“It’s great that Theresa May has just given £50m for grammar schools, but I would have much preferred to see that spent on digital apprenticeship schemes, where kids coming out of that apprenticeship could walk straight in to a job being paid in excess of 50k a year.

“We’ve got a real dier need for engineering talent in this country.”

To watch Alex's interview in full please visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-37407681

You can also follow Alex on Twitter at @adepledge

How do you think the UK can help to close the skills gap? Is it the responsibility of the government, the education system or businesses to increase the number of qualified engineers? Please leave a comment below.

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I am a 30-year-old tech lover, self-confessed geek and football fanatic! When I am not playing with the latest gadget you will often find me watching my favourite TV shows including Game of Thrones, Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory. Feel free to follow me on Instagram @robbiedunion or Twitter @robbiedunion

26 Sep 2016, 8:37