Low carbon jobs + skills = economic boost

Engineering skills shortages threaten to leave the UK behind its international counterparts in the race to secure energy markets, warns EngineeringUK in its annual report launched at Number 11 Downing Street today.

The launch brought together leaders from industry, education and government, including Minister for Business and Enterprise, Mark Prisk, to deliver a new partnership to address these challenges.

Engineering UK 2011: The state of Engineering confirms that the engineering sector is at the forefront of rebalancing the UK economy and meeting climate change and renewable energy targets. Success is dependent upon both investment, on a scale not known since reconstruction after World War II, and on significantly boosting the skill levels of UK workers.

The global low carbon market is projected to reach £4.5 trillion by 2015 and the need for the UK to stake its claim in this growing industry is clear; the report raises concerns about whether the UK’s lack of skills at the appropriate level could put opportunities out of reach, however.

The report highlights significant discrepancies between the demand and supply of appropriately skilled technicians. At least 10% of technicians currently working within science, engineering and technology fields are under-qualified – at level two (equivalent to e.g. GCSE grades A* - C, NVQ or BTEC Level 2) or below, where at least a level three (A Levels, NVQ or BTEC level 3) is needed.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said:  “While the demand for investment is a crucial message brought home by the report, the underlying issue, upon which all else rests, is the need to produce the right number of engineers with the right level of skills to maximise the UK’s economic potential. 

“Addressing the imbalance between demand and the right level of engineering skills is a generational challenge. There is a massive opportunity here for industry. The government and the engineering sector must now grip this challenge and make Britain the watchword for low carbon engineering expertise.

“EngineeringUK’s programmes engage with the whole science, technology and engineering community because working together is the only way to bring about effective change. Today’s launch, which brought together government, business and education, is further evidence of the recognition of the importance of engineering to the UK economy, the need to bridge the gap between demand and supply of engineers, and a commitment to work together to achieve this.”

Business Minister, Mark Prisk, said:"Government and industry are both clear that to create a resurgence in the UK manufacturing sector and to become a world-leader in the production of low carbon economy products and solutions we need more engineers.

"Nearly half of those currently employed are over 45, so the industry faces the challenge of filling more than 500,000 posts over the coming six years.
"We need a new approach where industry, education and government works collaboratively to achieve this common ambition so I welcome this partnership to address these challenges.

"This Government is committed to increasing the number of highly skilled workers. One of our first announcements was a commitment to create an additional 50,000 new adult apprenticeships by redirecting £150m from Train to Gain.

"We built on this commitment in the spending review by announcing that we will be increasing adult apprenticeship funding by up to £250m a year by the end of the Spending Review period, so that the Programme will continue to grow. By 2014/15 we will have in place sufficient funding for 75,000 more adult apprenticeship places than the previous Government were providing."

Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, Lord Sassoon, said: “Engineering has an important role to play in the rebalancing of the economy – helping distribute success more evenly across the many sectors of the economy. If we want a high tech economy - specialising in advance forms of manufacturing and innovation - then we’ll need skilled engineers. The National Infrastructure Plan recognised the importance of a solid engineering base and improved skills as a critical factor in delivering infrastructure development in the UK and I welcome today’s report from Engineering UK.”

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Notes to Editors

The engineering sector represents substantial potential for wealth and job creation in the UK, accounting for a fifth of Gross Domestic Product - almost three times the size of the financial services sector. In 2009 total turnover stood at £848.6 billion and the sector provided jobs for over 4.5 million people across more than 480,000 different enterprises. 

Examples of “low carbon jobs”:
• power systems engineers in the wind and marine energy sectors
• electrical engineers able to fit low carbon electrical systems e.g. fitting houses with solar panels


EngineeringUK is an independent organisation that promotes the vital contribution of engineers, engineering and technology in our society. EngineeringUK partners business and industry, government and the wider science and engineering community: producing evidence on the state of engineering, sharing knowledge within engineering and inspiring young people to choose a career in engineering, matching employers’ demand for skills. For more information about EngineeringUK please visit

Engineering UK 2011: The state of Engineering is an annual report on the state of UK engineering and the cornerstone of wider policy output. To read the report, go to