Press release

New work experience initiative to play critical role in tackling skills shortfall

16 October 2017

Industry, government and academia are at risk of stifling economic growth if there isn’t a greater focus on skills based learning, such as work experience and internships, says the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as a new campaign Work Experience for All is launched today.

With 62% of engineering employers reporting that graduates don’t have the right practical skills for today’s workplace, and up to 30% of engineering students going into careers outside engineering**, the IET believes more can be done to tackle the engineering skills shortfall and now calls on the Government to develop a national work experience framework.

The IET’s campaign, which comes during National Work Experience Week (16-20 October 2017), brings together employers, universities, further education colleges and policy makers to collaborate on developing the quality of work experience and internships for those in education or training, to improve the supply of engineers and technicians coming into the industry.

Commenting on the new campaign, John Perkins, Chair of the IET Skills and Education Policy Panel, said: “As we are facing an engineering shortfall in the next decade, compounded by uncertainty around skills following Brexit, there is deep concern that access to our next generation of work-ready engineers is being stifled by a lack of quality work experience and internships.

“Work Experience For All’s recommendations include developing a government-led national framework for work experience, which would see a region or city’s major Higher Education provider building a work experience ‘supply chain’ with local businesses, schools and further education providers. The framework could be supported by extending the existing apprenticeship levy, requiring employers to invest in internships and work placements. This would be particularly valuable for smaller companies who typically struggle with the time and cost implications of offering work experience opportunities and could also support students.

“There is also a need for more locally driven university and industry partnerships – and to enable more students to find their own work experience opportunities. Initiatives such as these would be a welcome part of the new Industrial Strategy for the UK.”

The IET’s Work Experience For All: manifesto for change can be found via the campaign website.

Notes to editors:

*The recommendations are the result of a panel discussion event held by the IET in September 2016, which was attended by over 100 representatives from universities, industry and the student community.

**The 2016 Skills and Demand in Industry report is based on extended telephone interviews with over 400 engineering employers across the UK. While there is some optimism from employers about being able to recruit the engineers they need, concerns about skills gaps and diversity issues, the role of education, and a lack of experienced engineering staff all come under the spotlight. Findings include:

Education, employment and skills gaps

68% of employers say they are concerned that the education system will struggle to keep up with the skills required for technological change
52% of employers are currently seeking new engineering and technology recruits
57% are currently, or have recently, experienced problems recruiting senior engineers with 5-10 years’ experience
50% find that a typical new engineering and technology recruit does not meet their reasonable expectations

Engineering work experience
76% of employers agree that compelling all engineering and technology companies to provide work experience would improve the pool of engineering talent
53% don’t know how the apprentice levy can benefit their organisation

Diversity and inclusion
9% of the UK engineering and technology workforce are female
63% of businesses don’t have gender diversity initiatives in place (increased from 57% in 2015)
73% don’t have LGBT or ethnic diversity initiatives in place

40% of employers agree that their organisation could do more to recruit people from diverse backgrounds

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett, External Communications Manager

T: +44 (0)1438 767336

M: +44 (0)7738602426

E: hkellett@theiet.org