Launch of our 2021 skills and demand in industry survey

The fieldwork was conducted online with 1039 engineering and technology employers across the UK between the 6 August and 2 September 2021 by market research agency YouGov.

Our report breaks down the results of our survey into five categories, exploring the impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit, skills shortages, recruitment difficulties, sustainability strategies and new entrants to the workforce.

Below are some of the key findings from our survey.

The impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit

  • More than half of engineering employers say they have had to deal with staff ill/self-isolating as a result of Covid-19 (55%), with slightly fewer saying they have had to cope with staff being furloughed or made redundant (51%) or had to shift to remote working (50%).
  • 45% of engineering employers have experienced difficulty importing/exporting to and from other countries.

Current workforce needs

  • Over a quarter (27%) say the greatest skills gaps in their organisation are in high skilled roles (university level or higher) with more (31%) finding them in intermediate roles (A-Level, NVQ 3 Level, apprenticeships).
  • Around half (51%) think that the Government should be providing more support to train or reskill in priority areas nationally with slightly less thinking the same about their local area (45%).

Gaining skills

  • Applicants lacking technical skills remain the main difficulty seen by engineering employers (42%).
  • Most engineering employers who think applicants are lacking in technical skills say that it is specialist skills/knowledge needed for the role that is likely to be lacking (63%).


  • Around a third of engineering, employers have taken some action to increase the diversity of their engineering, IT, and technical workforce in terms of gender (33%) or ethnicity (30%).
  • The most common forms of activity cited by engineering employers who are working to increase the diversity of their technical staff are flexible/part-time working (40%), offering equal pay/transparency of policies (38%), and staff training/diversity ambassadors (35%).

Skills for sustainability

  • When it comes to their own organisations, half of respondents consider it achievable (50%) to reach net zero by 2050, compared with 38% who think it is not achievable.
  • Skills are a factor in lowering environmental impact; 20% are upskilling their current workforce to improve their sustainability and 12% are recruiting new employees with the relevant skills to do so.

Looking to the future

  • When engineering employers are asked what skills they anticipate being important areas for growth in their sector over the next five years, over a third say design and manufacturing skills (36%). This is closely followed by energy and environmental sustainability skills (35%).

Read our full survey for more findings, conclusions, and recommendations to ensure that current and future workforce needs are met.