By Daniel Hunter

If the UK is to remain able to build world-class facilities like the Olympic Park, or equivalent international projects, more engineers and technicians are urgently needed.

New research shows that this year more companies are finding it difficult to recruit engineers than in 2011. If this persists, the UK economy is more likely to continue shrinking.

Published today, the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) annual skills survey shows that there is demand for new recruits but that employers are struggling to find staff.

Over the next year, 58 per cent of companies are planning to recruit, compared to just 36 per cent in 2011, and compared to a high of 63 per cent in 2008 before the recession.

“The engineering sector has enjoyed a renaissance recently, playing such a central role in enabling a successful Olympics Games," Stephanie Fernandes, IET Principal Policy Advisor for Education and Skills said.

“The sector is of huge importance to the economy, typically accounting for a quarter of all turnover in the UK. This new research clearly shows a desire by employers to recruit new staff, but that they are struggling to find the right people.

“The planned recruitment is clearly good news, suggesting increased confidence in the economic outlook, but if firms are unable to fill their vacancies the economy will continue to shrink.”

Plans to specifically recruit engineering, IT and technical staff have also increased with 39 per cent of companies planning to hire new staff within the next 12 months, compared to 24 per cent in 2011.

The IET’s seventh ‘Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry’ report also shows that 77 per cent of companies are recruiting new staff as a result of business expansion.

“It is more important than ever that the education system consistently delivers the engineers and technicians that industry desperately needs," Stephanie Fernandes added.

"This reinforces the recent House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report which called for urgent action by the government to boost student numbers in the STEM subjects.”

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