Shortage of Engineers and Manufacturers in the UK

Published date: May 18, 2020

Wherever you are reading this article, before starting talking about the reasons why the UK found itself into a shortage of engineers and manufacturers, explore what is around you.

Almost everything that we use in our lives has been designed, produced and developed by engineers and manufacturers and still, we are facing a massive deficiency in the number of professionals.


Engineering and manufacturing remain a cornerstone to the UK economy, generating 21.4% (£1.2 trillion) of the UK’s £5.7 trillion GDP in 2018.

Both the commitment to zero-emission targets and the four grand challenges (AI, ageing society, clean growth and future of mobility) are not only pushing the UK to increase productivity but also headcounts.


The Royal Academy of Engineering has estimated that to meet demand, the UK needs to find more than one million new engineers by 2020 while at the moment there is a shortfall of 69,000 engineers and technicians. Despite Brexit and the economic uncertainty, the engineering and manufacturing shortage already existed before the referendum and different reasons contributed to that.

In the last recession, many moved out of the industry and employers had to reduce the number of entry-level positions, opening skills gaps in the long run

From the mid-1970s there has been a decline of apprenticeships for new graduates and a decrease in companies providing training at a professional level

With each wave of retirement, there are fewer and fewer new skilled workers to take their place

Engineering and manufacturing careers simply do not resonate with the modern Instagram generation

There are gender differences, therefore women are less paid and they represent less than 15% of the total number of engineers in the UK

Engineering courses don’t prepare students for the workplace, therefore many new graduates don’t have the skills for the job market. As a result, they don’t look attractive to employers 

There is a non-flexible approach during recruitment processes, in particular, talent acquisition professionals don’t look at the transferability of skills

Normally, the government introduces engineering and manufacturing concepts to students when they are between 16 and 18 years of age. This appears to be too late

While UK engineering universities are popular across the world, they mostly attract foreign students

Filling the demand in the UK will generate an additional £27 billion per year for the UK economy from 2022, the equivalent of building 1,800 schools or 110 hospitals, according to the research published in Engineering UK 2015, The State of Engineering.