Apprenticeship move welcome – but more needed to bridge skills gap

Chancellor Philip Hammond has not done enough to tackle the growing skills gap in engineering, says leading North West-headquartered civil and structural engineering consultancy TRP Consulting.

Director Geoff Wilks has warned a shortage of talent across all sectors of engineering is beginning to “bite hard”. And he fears it could get worse.

He welcomed the Chancellor’s moves to cut the costs of apprentices for SMES. However, he added: “That is just part of the picture. We would have liked some stronger focus on upskilling the existing workforce to meet the growing demands of technological change.

“And we would really have liked to see a commitment to get more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) teachers into schools.”

He added:  “A shortage of people with the appropriate skills that all areas of engineering require is already starting to have a negative impact and it is set to get worse if we don’t act.

“The effect of Brexit on attracting talent from Europe is likely to also have a negative effect.”

He added: “There has been much talk about the need to boost productivity. Having the skills to harness technological advances is vital to this, no more so than in the engineering sector.

“Engineering UK has stressed the need to see more STEM specialist teachers in schools and to address the skills needs of the engineering sector as technological advances gather pace. We would have liked to have seen those calls addressed in the Budget speech.”