Are apprenticeships the answer to talent shortages?

10 Mar 14:00 by


So here goes!  This is my first blog so I do hope that you enjoy it.   I have been with Talent FM just a month now and I specialise in Hard Services. As with any new role I researched the industries I would be recruiting for and there is one thing I noticed more than anything else, and that was the shortage of experienced & qualified engineers.

A sector that is responsible for 26 per cent of the UK’s GDP. In 2015, engineering businesses contributed £486bn to the UK economy, more than the combined contribution of the retail, wholesale, financial and insurance industries.

One prediction is that there will be a shortage of 36800 Qualified Engineers by 2050, so this is definitely something that needs to be addressed and soon.

Most of the UK engineering universities rely on attracting foreign talent as only 25 per cent of postgraduate engineering and technology degrees are currently awarded to UK citizens.   Despite a starting salary of a graduate of £26,000, compared to an all-subjects average of £22,000, engineering continues to rank low as a career choice.

According to the Engineering UK Report published in Feb 2017, “108,000 people began engineering related Apprenticeships in England in 2016, the highest rate recorded in the last ten years. However, while engineering and technology degrees are up nine per cent, the demand for graduates for engineering roles continues to outstrip supply. The report estimates the shortfall of at least 20,000 annually and emphasises the need to attract and retain international talent”.

The report also highlights an ageing engineering workforce with the proportion of workers younger than 25 constantly decreasing over the past 10 years. 

Skills supply remains the major concern of the UK engineering sector especially with the pending Brexit and the expected withdrawal of the UK from the European Single Market and the area of free movement, the businesses are concerned they might struggle to find the required talent.

So who does the solution lie with? Who should the responsibility to fill this void sit with? The Government, Universities, CIBSE & other trade bodies, Employers?

There is of course the government quota numbers for Apprenticeships that aims to create 3 million apprenticeships and all public bodies will need to meet a quota that at least 2.3% of the workforce comes from apprentices.  It is National Apprenticeship Week this week and I believe apprenticeships could be the way forward for this sector.   Companies like Tomorrow’s Engineers are leading the way.   Their program directly reached over 300,000 young people last year with a goal to create a national network of employers working locally to reach 1m young people every year with effective careers interventions from STEM employers. 

The following websites website for more information;

If you are an engineer who is interested in ‘paying it forward’ and helping to inspire ‘tomorrow’s engineers’ then I highly recommend taking a look at this website  You can sign up to go and speak in schools and colleges to share your experience of being an engineer, your career path and hopefully inspire somebody for the future.

It would be great to hear from anyone within the industry who has their own experience of inspiring the future.  And do you think that the apprenticeships scheme will create the numbers required to fill the void?