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IET skills and demand in industry 2021 survey

The skills gap is still a concern with more than half reporting shortages in skills within their own workforces.

The last year has been particularly challenging for engineering employers. Disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic has greatly affected businesses of all sizes with some staff switching to working from home, some becoming ill and having to self-isolate, and others being furloughed or made redundant, not to mention site closures and decreases in sales.

As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, employees are gradually returning to work and the ‘new normal’, industry is looking to rebuild but requires some help to do so.

This 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.

We have also included key recommendations to ensure that current and future workforce needs are met.

Below are some key findings from our survey.

The impacts of Covid-19 and Brexit

  • A quarter of employers say they have experienced a shortage of labour/skills (25%) and a slightly smaller proportion have felt the impact of tougher immigration controls for their non-UK labour (21%).

Current workforce needs

  • According to the businesses surveyed, the best thing the Government can do both nationally and in their local area to improve skills is to provide more funding for apprenticeships (54% nationally; 45% in their local area).

Gaining skills

  • Applicants lacking the technical skills remains the main difficulty seen by engineering employers (42%).


  • 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%).

Skills for sustainability

  • Most firms are taking some kind of action to lower their environmental impact; only 13% say they are definitely not taking any action.
  • Of those with a sustainability strategy, four-fifths (81%) think their organisation needs additional skills in order to deliver it.

Looking to the future

  • Around half of engineering employers who think young people do not have necessary technical skills say they are lacking time/project management skills (52%), business knowledge (50%), or specialist skills/ knowledge needed for the role (49%).