Recruit from “reservoir of talent” to tackle skills shortages and improve diversity, new report says

Skills shortages and a lack of diversity in UK engineering can be overcome with a new approach by thinking about recruiting from a ‘reservoir of talent’ which is ready to learn, rather than the existing ‘leaky pipeline’, a new report says.

To drive innovation, productivity and economic growth the UK needs to prepare for the skills challenges of the coming decades. Through workshops and a rapid evidence assessment, the Talent 2050 final report explores future engineering needs in the UK for a globally-competitive skills and diversity mix. 

The report recommendations consider the broader skills required in engineering roles of the future. They suggest a more inclusive approach where recruitment or enrolment is based on the potential to gain the right skills rather than prior attainment; and with careers expected to be longer recognising and providing support for upskilling and reskilling; and making use of on-line learning tools at all career stages. 

Published today (8 July 2019) the report will be discussed at a roundtable meeting hosted by Barclays with representatives from industry, academia and policy-makers and at the parliamentary and scientific committee discussion meeting on STEM education and skills.

Report author, Paul Jackson, said: “We heard from real engineers and found great examples of the changes that could power engineering skills in the future and how those skills are already changing dramatically. They helped us to find a reservoir of future talent that we can access but it will mean changes to education, professional registration and recruitment if we want to succeed at scale and profit from AI and the next industrial revolution.”

Dr Joe Marshall, chief executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business, said: “This report is a welcome addition to the debate about future skills needs. It highlights that together, universities, business and government can do more to equip the UK for a productive and inclusive future. To take full advantage of the UK’s reservoir of talent, upskilling, reskilling and mobility between sectors needs to be fully supported and integrated in an industrial strategy that embraces interdisciplinary working.”

Hannah Vickers, chief executive of the Association for Consultancy and Engineering, said: “The evolution of our service offering and of our business models, will in turn alter the skills profile of the workforce we employ as businesses. This report highlights a number of challenges ahead, and solutions through greater retraining opportunities and mobility across disciplines. The sooner we face these, the faster we can build upon the UK’s world-class expertise. 

“As businesses, tapping into the reservoir of talent will be critical to our future success, and through its Future of Consultancy campaign, ACE will be supporting businesses in this. We now need a partnership from academia and the professional bodies in developing students and staff to become the engineers of the future.”

The Talent 2050 project was supported by Barclays, LSBU, NATS and Pearson.

Click here to download a copy of the Talent 2050 report.

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