How eight year olds can save the UK economy

A report released today by EngineeringUK suggests that if you want your eight year old to be out in front when the UK economy moves back into growth, parents should make sure their children take physics and mathematics - a must for most engineering careers.

A report released today by EngineeringUK suggests that if you want your eight year old to be out in front when the UK economy moves back into growth, parents should make sure their children take physics and mathematics - a must for most engineering careers.

According to Engineering UK: the state of engineering 2012, launched today at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, by the time today’s primary school pupils are of working age, the UK will need over two million additional engineers to meet demand.  Predicting a growth wave in engineering jobs the report is clear that these roles will move abroad if the UK skillsbase can’t meet the need.

The report shows that engineering is central to ensuring economic growth and plays a major role in helping to tackle global challenges, including climate change, health, food security, biodiversity, water security, population and energy security. At home, the challenge for the engineering, manufacturing and science sectors is to develop and exploit emerging technologies, such as advanced manufacturing, manu-services, and low carbon and environmental goods and services.  But the UK can only achieve success in these fields if future graduates have skills rooted in maths and the sciences.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said:

“Today’s report has the potential to be a rare good news story for the economy and for our future workforce. The engineering sector is a huge success story. It generated £1.15 trillion in turnover in the year ending March 2010 – nearly 25% of the turnover of all businesses in the UK - and employs 5.6 million people across 551,520 enterprises. The Government is recognising the need to promote and grow the UK’s engineering capabilities; however we will not meet demand if we don’t act now to ensure the talent pipeline of the future.

“We need to get the message to every parent, teacher and young person in the UK: ‘take physics and maths!’ We must make sure our children keep their options open in order to be able to play a role in this growing industry. If a lack of skilled workers means that we can’t take advantage of emerging technologies, the industry and the jobs will go elsewhere.

“One of our underlying challenges is to re-invigorate public perception about what it means to be an engineer in the twenty-first century. From large infrastructure projects like Crossrail or next year’s Olympics, to the massive impact at a microscopic level of robotic surgery or blood monitors that will help diabetes sufferers, there are numerous excellent opportunities to showcase UK feats of engineering. And initiatives, such as The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair and The Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering, will go a long way to inspiring our future generation of engineers. What today’s report shows is that government, business, education and the wider engineering community are committed to working together to create brighter futures for our children.”

Business Minister, Mark Prisk, said:

“Engineering is a diverse and rewarding career. You get to see something that you have designed and worked on taking shape before your very eyes, whether it’s a bridge, an airliner or a microchip.

“As this report shows, engineers will be at the forefront of our rebalanced economy, which is why we are working now to encourage young people to think about a career in engineering. Our See Inside Manufacturing initiative, where we open doors to factories so people can see what modern manufacturing is actually like, and the Make it in Great Britain campaign where we will be showcasing the best of British manufacturing at the Science museum during the 2012 Olympics, are both aimed at changing people’s perceptions about what modern industry is like. That way, we can inspire our young people to be our inventors and engineers of the future.”

The report reveals positive indications for the uptake of science and mathematics at GCSE and A Level. GCSE biology, chemistry and physics have all tripled their size over ten years, and in 2011, the number of entrants for physics rose by 16.4%. In 2010, 16,624 students achieved an A*-C grade in both maths and physics A Level, generally considered a pre-requisite to studying a degree in engineering. Challenges still exist in encouraging girls to take maths and physics A Levels, however.

The rewards for those who do follow an engineering route are considerable:  BIS research shows that the average undergraduate premium is approximately £108,000, compared with someone with two A Levels. For engineering, it is substantially higher, at approximately £144,000 (around 33%).

The launch of Engineering UK: the state of engineering was attended by representatives from Alstom Ltd, Aston University, BAE Systems Plc, Crossrail, EDF Energy, EngineeringUK, Finmeccanica UK Ltd, Rolls Royce Plc, Shell UK Ltd, Semta and The Royal Academy of Engineering.

To read the report, go to

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Notes to Editors

The UK’s engineering outlook

• Examination of the Sector Skills Assessments for the 10 engineering-related Sector Skills Councils shows that the estimated requirement for employees over the next 5-10 years will be an additional 2,217,500.
• The UK is the seventh-largest manufacturing nation in the world, behind the USA, China, Japan, Germany Italy and France.
• In 2010, 2.5 million people were employed in UK manufacturing, representing 10% of all employees.
• Manufacturing is a major investor in Research & Development (R&D) which, in turn, is an important driver of technological innovation. Of the top 25 UK companies by R&D spend, eight are from the manufacturing sector.


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 2012: 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