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How engineering apprenticeships can fill the UK skills gap

As the UK’s talent pool continues to transform in the wake of Brexit, one thing seems certain: Great Britain is experiencing a construction and engineering skills gap, which is actually good news for potential apprentices! As demand for production grows, businesses must address this gap and combat it by training apprentices in order to see their companies thrive.

The construction skills gap is bad enough. The CITB estimated that companies must recruit 44,690 new construction workers to meet an increased demand of 2.9% by 2019. In engineering, the crisis is even greater – the UK government stated that 186,000 skilled workers must be recruited each year until 2024 to meet the estimated demand for skilled engineering professionals.

Unfortunately (or fortunately for apprentices), the reality is that there are not enough skilled workers waiting in an employment pool. Without pre-existing domestic talent to recruit and in light of the challenge associated with the recruitment of foreign workers, how will the engineering and construction industry address the skills gap and meet the demand? With apprentices, of course! As a potential apprentice, this is an enormous opportunity you can take advantage of.

Apprentices over external recruitment

While recruitment can be a costly process, especially when trying to source skilled and experienced workers in a certain field, apprenticeships are instead a cost-effective way of training up a young person and building the specific skillset a business will need. As a potential apprentice, you’ll be in the favourable position of being inexpensive to hire, easy to train and will become a skilled worker with vast career potential.

Graduates aren’t working

As an apprentice engineer, you’ll benefit from the ability to work and train without accruing costly student loans. Graduates, whilst entering the workforce in what may seem like a better position, will also be burdened by debt and will lack the practical experience you’ve acquired as part of your training. 62% of engineering employers said they didn’t think graduates could offer the right skills fresh out of university. Worse still, graduates are choosing to move away from engineering fields, furthering the skills gap – it was estimated that there is a shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates in the UK.

Opportunities for female engineers

With the skills shortage on almost every engineering professional’s mind, the demand for female engineering apprentices has never been higher. Women in engineering represent just 11% of the engineering workforce according to WES Statistics, which also puts the UK in the unenviable position of having the lowest amount of professional female engineers throughout the whole of Europe. In 2015/2016, just 7% of those completing the Engineering BTEC were female. Considering the skills shortage for a moment, just imagine the potential if more females decided to become engineers. With a need for 186,000 new skilled workers per year, the opportunity has never been better for women to join the field and become engineering professionals.

2018 was branded the year of engineering, but it has also been a year in which the future of the UK’s engineering workforce has been called into question. With a hampered ability to look outside of the UK for skilled workers, recruiters and engineering companies must focus their attention inwards. Graduates are simply not meeting the expectations required by employers, and there are also not enough of them entering the workforce.

That means engineering apprenticeships are the best viable option for companies who want to stay ahead of the skills shortage and meet the demands of a changing market. By training to be an engineer through an apprenticeship in this current employment landscape, you’ll be gaining vital skills and practical, hands-on experience that is invaluable to an industry that desperately needs new talent.

Photo: Engineers_1 by InstituteForApprenticeships licensed under Creative commons 2
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