A lack of young engineers and in particular female engineers, has caused genuine concerns within the engineering industry in recent years.

However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has given the whole of British industry a significant boost by claiming that young people who choose apprenticeships and vocational training over academic studies will form the country’s ‘economic backbone’.

Speaking at the Skills Show at Birmingham’s NEC, Mr Clegg said; “We need to get beyond this rather fusty, old-fashioned view that the only good thing for a young person to do after school or a college education is to take an academic qualification.

There are lots of really, really bright youngsters who will provide the economic backbone of this country for decades to come who just don’t want to have their nose stuck in a book for three years.

They are people who actually want to get their hands dirty, literally and metaphorically. They want to learn while they earn.”

Mr Clegg said he would be “genuinely as happy” for any of his children to pick an apprenticeship over a degree.

“I want them to treat academic and vocational education on exactly the same footing. If you look at successful economies, progressive societies such as Scandinavia, they don’t have this lingering snobbery that says the only qualification that is a good one is an academic one.

It’s not about denigrating academic qualifications in favour of vocational ones, it’s about putting them both on the same pedestal.”

Five facts about Engineering Apprenticeships in Britain 

1) The number of people starting engineering apprenticeships has reached its lowest level in three years.

2) The number of new apprenticeships across all subjects has fallen by 17 per cent over the last three years, from 520,600 in 2011/12 to 434,400 in 2012/14.

3) Research shows that 63,240 people started engineering apprenticeships in 2013/14 – a decline of 9.3 per cent from 2011/12.

4) This is the third consecutive year of decline in the number of new students starting engineering apprenticeships.

5) There has been a rise of 36 per cent in non-EU engineers coming to the UK over the past year.

These are the findings of SJD Accountancy, which issued a warning on skills shortages that have echoes of their statement made in October that discussed the importation of engineering skills into Britain.

Simon Curry, CEO of SJD Accountancy said: “Despite initial success in boosting the number of engineering apprenticeships, the numbers are now on a worrying downward trend.

At a time when the UK engineering sector is facing a skills shortage and needs to recruit tens of thousands of additional engineers every year, these apprenticeships numbers show that the gap is beginning to widen again.

Skills shortages push up costs for major engineering projects and have a knock-on effect across the wider economy. With the economy recovering and the government having ramped up investment in infrastructure projects, demand for engineering skills is rising.

With a large number of senior engineers reaching retirement, we need to ensure that the talent pipeline is delivering fresh skills if the UK engineering sector is to prosper.”

Are you seeking an engineering apprenticeship in South Wales or do you have any thoughts on apprenticeships within the engineering industry? If so, let us know your views in the comment box below.

Image Copyright: Nostal6ie / 123RF Stock Photo


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