Engineering today: the supply and demand for engineers in the UK #Theyearofengineering

A report into the engineering labour market reveals the challenges facing the industry’s workforce in the UK now and in the future.


Employer feedback suggests that newly-qualified engineers are not receiving the right education for today’s economy, with companies citing the content of STEM qualifications, and a lack of workplace experience and soft skills, such as interpersonal communication, among the reason why engineering graduates struggle to find jobs in spite of demand.


The report sheds further light on these issues by examining the wider engineering workforce, from engineering professions, to technicians and skilled and managerial professions that work alongside engineers across a range of sectors, and not solely the engineering construction industry. The report also examines routes into engineering careers for young people.


2018 is the Year of Engineering, with the Government running a national campaign to increase awareness and understanding of what engineers do among young people. The ECITB’s (Engineering Construction Industry Training Board) report offers a timely analysis of the current engineering workforce and the future demand for engineers in the UK.  The recommendations include encouraging more women and graduates from Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BAME) into engineering professions and better links between employers and education establishments to ensure graduates have the skills training and experience required by industry.


Key findings:

  • Engineers in the workforce: In 2016, there were just under 465,000 engineers employed in the UK, a 9% increase since 2009.
  • Women in engineering: Almost 9% of engineers in the UK are women (2016), an increase from 5% in 2009.
  • Diversity in Engineering: The industry is over 90% white. There is also evidence that BAME graduates receive lower salaries on average and have fewer employment opportunities.
  • Earnings of engineers: In 2016, the average engineer’s income exceeded £42,000, 49% higher than the average earnings in the UK. Engineering graduates, from apprenticeships and higher education, earned £5,000 more than the average salary for graduates.
  • Engineers in Higher Education: In 2015/16, 38.5% engineering graduates went into engineering professions, the lowest figure since 2012.
  • Apprenticeships in Engineering: In 2013/14 over 90% of engineering apprentices sustained employment compared to an average of 75% for all apprentices.
  • Engineering retirements: By 2026, more than 91,000 engineers, or nearly 20% of the workforce, will have retired or be close to retiring.


The full report is available to download here:


Chris Claydon, Chief Executive of the ECITB, said: “Engineering plays a vital role in all aspects of life in the UK from producing food and pharmaceuticals to building energy plants and generating electricity.

“This year the Government has recognised the significance of attracting more young people into careers in engineering and this report offers some interesting discussion points and insights about the industry during the Year of Engineering.

“We’re moving to a more technological future, with the pace of change accelerating all the time. That’s why it’s vital we understand our workforce, the skills they have and the training they require to compete both domestically and internationally.”


‘Engineering Today: the Supply and Demand for Engineers in the UK’ is the second piece of labour market intelligence published by the ECITB. A report published in November 2017 found the Engineering Construction Industry, which includes sectors responsible for designing, building and maintaining our critical national infrastructure from refining oil and gas to generating wind energy employs nearly 190,000 workers and contributes as much as £325 billion in turnover to the UK economy. These reports are the first in a series to be published on the engineering construction industry and its workforce. It forms a part of the ECITB’s new labour intelligence program, which aims to improve understanding of the industry and its skills requirements as well as identify emerging trends. A report on the makeup of the UK’s engineering construction workforce is set for publication in 2018.