Durkan backs campaign to address engineering skills gap

Foyle MP Mark Durkan.

Foyle MP Mark Durkan.

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SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has pledged to help address a skills shortage currently facing the engineering industry by encouraging employers in Derry to work proactively with local schools and colleges to inspire more young people to become engineers as part of the wider STEM curriculum.

The motivation for the pledge comes in response to findings from a recent industry survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) which highlights:

* More than half of employers are having difficulties recruiting the staff they need for their businesses to expand.

* Just six per cent of engineers are female

* 59 per cent of companies indicated concerns that a shortage of engineers would be a threat to their businesses

* 44 per cent of engineering, IT and technical recruits do not meet the employer’s expected levels of skills

Mr Durkan, who attended this week’s IET parliamentary reception at Westminster, said: “I am delighted to support this important campaign and to encourage employers to work with local schools to inspire more young people to take science, technology, engineering & maths subjects.

“If we are to compete on the world stage, we desperately need more young people (in particular girls) to aspire to engineering and high-level manufacturing careers.”

IET Chief Executive, Nigel Fine, explains: “Demand for engineers in the UK remains high. We need 87,000 new engineers each year for the next decade, so there is a critical need to do more to promote engineering as an appealing career choice to young people.

“It is encouraging to see from our survey that over half of engineering employers recognise that they have a crucial role to play here - as well as in helping to shape the curriculum so that young people enter the world of work with the skills that employers want.

“MPs are ideally placed to help us capitalise on this opportunity by helping to get more employers involved with the education system at a local level so that we produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving economy.”