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More apprenticeships needed to combat growing skills gap

New research from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) reveals that a third (32%) of engineering companies are still looking to recruit and train apprentices and graduates to fill skills gaps.

During National Apprenticeships Week the IET is calling on companies to work with schools to show young people that apprenticeships, particularly in the engineering sector, are a great career choice and can help tackle future skills challenges such as combatting climate change.

Stephanie Baxter, IET Skills and Education lead, says: “Apprenticeships are a fantastic way for young people to continue their studies, whilst experiencing the realities of work. They give employers an opportunity to develop the skills of young people to fill emerging roles and fill critical skills gaps.

“We need to start changing people’s mindset – apprenticeships hold no lesser value than other traditional academic routes and should be considered as equal. We need schools, parents and businesses to collectively push this message to encourage uptake.”

Despite the appetite to recruit apprentices, over a third (38%) of engineering employers are still expressing concern that apprentices don’t understand the realities of work in their industry and that they don’t have the necessary technical skills (34%).

Stephanie added: “Employers should be flexible in their expectations of young people leaving education who may have missed out on key training and practical opportunities caused by lockdown.

“It’s disappointing to see there is still a low perception to the quality of young people entering the engineering sector. There are lots of challenges facing us now, such as fighting climate change and transforming our digital world. We believe by improving our understanding of these challenges; we will be able to create work ready recruits that have the ability to tackle problems that don’t yet have a known solution.

“Engineering apprentices can be a big part of our next generation of talent, we just need everyone to get behind it.”

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About the IET’s ‘Skills for net zero and a green recovery’ survey


The Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) annual skills survey this year is focused on the skills requirements for delivering the UK Government’s net-zero target by 2050, the subsequent impacts of COVID-19 on engineering employers, difficulties in recruiting engineers and employer perceptions of the engineering skills gap.

This factfile is based on the full report that we commissioned and conducted in partnership with YouGov. Total sample size was 1,010 respondents. The fieldwork was conducted between 7 August and 16 September 2020. The survey was carried out online and results have been weighted to be representative of engineering employers. All respondents were drawn from the YouGov panel of over 1.8m people in the UK.

The results of our survey are drawn-up into six categories, exploring the current skills challenges employers are facing, employers’ movement towards increased sustainability and how they can respond to future challenges by building skills for a green recovery.

About the IET


  • We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community to engineer a better world.
  • We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth means we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • Interview opportunities are available with our spokespeople from a range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and diversity in engineering.
  • For more information, visit
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Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett

External Communications Manager

T: +44 (0)7725 498 129