IET, one of the world’s most significant engineering institutions, has highlighted fears that the engineering industry in the UK could be hit very hard because of Brexit.

As yet there has been no guarantee made that migrant workers will be able to enjoy the same rights once the UK pulls the plug on Europe, and this could mean that the workforce diminishes.

It is thought that countries in the EU are mobilising to entice back the talent that has moved to the UK in the past, which may only serve to worsen the problems. Areas like Spain’s Basque Country have seen a significant decline in skilled workers in recent years and they are now poised to refill the rotas with engineers leaving the UK.

What can we do?

Whatever the future has in store, the best answer to ensuring we are able to continue trading as an engineering pioneer of the world is to address how our home-grown engineers are making their way into the industry.

Engineering apprenticeships are on the rise and this will help to refill the rotas somewhat should Brexit see EU engineers return to their home countries. However, not enough students are entering into them. Some of the statistics shine a light on this:

• There are fewer female professional engineers in the UK than in most of the world. At just 9%, there is a serious shortfall in the number of female apprentices entering the industry.
• Less than 6% of students study maths and physics to A-Level standard.

Engaging students in maths, physics and engineering is a vitally important step in safeguarding the engineering industry in the UK.

In order to address the big changes that Brexit could create in the UK’s engineering workforce, it is vitally important that we look to the future. There needs to be more women in engineering, greater uptake in engineering apprenticeships and a reskilling of the workforce in other areas in order to meet the demands of the vitally important engineering industry.

The good news for apprentices is that, should the IET’s predictions prove right, their job prospects upon coming out of training should be excellent with a wide range of jobs available to them post-Brexit.

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