Engineering group warns on skills shortage

A ship builder works on a section of the first of two Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers at BAE Systems in Portsmouth. 08/12/2010 Young people thinking engineering is badly paid or not secure as a job is hurting recruitment

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A large group of engineers in the UK nearing retirement age could constrain growth in the sector, according to a report.

The problem is exacerbated by a perception among young people that manufacturing is an unsecure, badly-paid career choice, according to the Engineering the Future group.

Adding to the negative reputation is the way courses are taught, it said.

It has called upon the government for help bolstering manufacturing.

"There are a lot of misconceptions about manufacturing among young people: that it is badly paid, has high redundancy rates and is dirty, physically demanding work," said Engineering the Future, which includes the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Engineering and Technology and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

"The lack of career advice and the national curriculum losing modules in design and technology at secondary level will have a negative impact on future manufacturing," it said. Engineering graduates are "taught to pass exams" rather than being given useful skills, it added.

It said the government ought to consider making the curriculum more relevant to "real world applications".

The group added that the changes should be taken soon, as experienced technical staff with 30 or more years behind them are nearing the ends of their careers "in large numbers".

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