The sheer volume of engineering graduates being produced by China and India has been cause for considerable concern in the UK. The fear is that the dearth of home-grown engineers will see the UK slip further down the rankings in terms of global competitiveness. Countries such as China and India have continued to enjoy economic growth in recent years, with science, engineering and technological innovation recognised as an integral driver of their success.
Meanwhile, the UK needs to double the number of engineering graduates and apprentices by 2020, according to a recent report by EngineeringUK. The industry body says that in order to achieve this, the UK will need to “reach young people, their parents and teachers with messages about 21st century engineering and the career opportunities available at all levels”.
However, progress is being made. While a quick glance at the statistics from EngineeringUK will tell you that 76,400 Chinese and 124,400 Indian engineering graduates were globally employable in 2012, compared to just 8,600 for the UK, look deeper and you will see that, as a proportion of overall population size, the UK produces more than twice the amount of skilled engineers as China does.
Add to that the £600 million the UK Government pledged to scientific research in last year’s autumn statement, and the future of UK engineering is actually looking pretty positive.
Nevertheless, there is still a way to go in terms of raising the profile of engineering in the UK and in so doing, changing people’s perceptions of the subject. In other words, communication is vital if the UK is going to succeed in producing twice the current amount of engineering graduates between now and 2020.
It is therefore vital that the positive messages are transmitted to young people, teachers and parents alike. By communicating these effectively and via the right channels, more students will see that engineering is an exciting field offering great employment prospects as well as opportunities to travel and broaden their horizons.