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Lack of development contributing to engineering skills shortage

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Engineers in the UK are not being developed to their full potential, according to a study by Towers Watson and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME).

The inaugural UK & Ireland Engineering Workforce Study suggests the engineering industry is focusing on attracting the next generation to plug the skills gap rather than raising the productivity of the current workforce.

This lack of development is having an impact on retention. The research found more than 40% of engineers plan to leave their current organisation in order to move up the ladder, citing lack career development and salary as important factors.

The most problematic demographic is engineers in their thirties, typically with line management responsibilities. According to the research, these employees are less engaged; 45% believe there are substantial obstacles to doing their job well, compared to 35% of twenty-year olds.

Towers Watson director of organisational surveys and insights Yves Duhaldeborde said the development needs of skilled engineers had been "neglected”.

He added: “A company’s productivity relies heavily on having an engaged workforce and things like feeling supported by your manager, seeing opportunities to progress and the calibre of one’s colleagues are all vital components in getting your employees to apply themselves and actively contribute to the success of the business.”

The IME’s head of commercial development Alastair Barr said: “We need to give serious thought as an industry to how we equip people with not only the core engineering skills required in today’s economy but also the people skills that allows us to drive up productivity as a whole.”