UK could be ‘sleep-walking towards a net zero engineering skills shortage’

Insights from a new report suggests more needs to be done in order to have a workforce capable of tackling the climate crisis

The net-zero workforce report by EngineeringUK has indicated that there isn’t a consistent understanding of the future demand for engineering and technical skills needed to meet the government’s net zero targets by 2050.

The report is based on an analysis of almost 30 research reports from across the engineering sector into the green jobs and engineering skills needed to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy.

It recommends that if government is to deliver on its carbon reduction targets it needs to get better at understanding the number of future green jobs and skills of people working in the sectors crucial to achieving the UK’s net-zero commitments.

To have a workforce that’s ready to respond to the climate crisis there needs to be people with the right engineering skills and other STEM backgrounds.

The report highlights there is no ‘back-casting’ being undertaken to understand whether the UK has the necessary numbers of young people acquiring STEM qualifications at secondary and tertiary education levels to tackle these challenges.

Mike Hardisty, head of environmental sustainability at EngineeringUK, said: “It’s clear that we could be sleep-walking towards a net-zero engineering skills shortage without knowing how big the skills and educational gaps are and where they are.

“More needs to be done to encourage and enable young people across the UK to take up STEM-based qualifications with a view to tackling the climate crisis. If we don’t have enough young people studying chemistry and physics now, for example, it could lead to a shortage of electrical and chemical engineers, which means we will not have the necessary skills in the future workforce.”

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