Press release

£30 million fund to secure supply of engineers and boost number of women in sector

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Matthew Hancock has today (12 June 2014) announced a £30 million fund to increase the supply of engineers.

Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock has today (12 June 2014) announced a £30 million fund to increase the supply of engineers, to encourage more women into the sector and to address engineering skills shortages in smaller companies. The fund will enable engineering companies to establish training programmes to develop future engineers and boost the number of women in the profession.

£10 million of the fund will be directed to a call to ‘Developing Women Engineers’ and £10 million to a call to ‘Improving Engineering Careers’. A further £10 million will be made available in the autumn to develop engineering skills in smaller companies. The calls have been developed in consultation with professional institutions and leading engineering companies from across the sector.

Speaking at the launch of the Manufacture your Future initiative in the West Midlands, Skills and Enterprise Minister Matthew Hancock said:

Skills are central to the UK economy and our long-term competitiveness. In order to allow UK engineering to grow and compete on the world stage we need a guaranteed supply of highly skilled and talented engineers.

As highlighted in the Perkins Review, the engineering sector is currently failing to draw on the whole talent pool. By supporting employers to develop the workforce of the future and bring more women into the engineering, we’re empowering the industry to unlock its potential.

The announcement forms part of the government’s Employer Ownership Fund that enables employers to design training projects that can address skills shortages holding back their business, providing 50% match funding to employers.

‘Developing Women Engineers’ and ‘Improving Engineering Careers’ are the first of a series of focused calls, centred on priority sectors that play a key role in ensuring the UK’s global economic competitiveness. Prospective bidders are encouraged to explore how they can support employees, particularly women, looking to return to the sector and how individuals with relevant skills can be helped to progress to become fully qualified engineers.

The calls come as a direct response to recommendations made in Perkins Review of Engineering, published in November 2013. Professor Perkins’ review of skills within the engineering sector recommended the government invite employers to put forward innovative proposals to develop engineering skills in sectors suffering acute skills shortages.

The government is working together with industry to address these critical issues and establish the skills training that can guarantee a vibrant and prosperous UK engineering sector. This follows a call to action announced in May 2014 supported by over 170 leading organisations across business, education and the third sector. The call to action will create some 2,000 employment opportunities aimed at increasing diversity and put in place a raft of measures geared towards increasing take-up across science, technology, engineering and maths.

Minister for Women Nicky Morgan said:

I am pleased to announce that the government is providing £10 million to help women progress as engineers. We need to move away from the perception that engineering is a ‘man’s world’. Without women pursuing careers in engineering, UK companies are missing out on a vast pool of talent.

The Employer Ownership Fund empowers employers to work with government to solve skills challenges that cannot be supported through mainstream funding. The fund is focused on combating skills shortages in key strategic sectors such as engineering and automotive due to the role they play in driving growth and the government’s Industrial Strategy.

Terry Scuoler chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation said:

The lack of engineering skills in the UK has become a ticking time-bomb, and manufacturers are investing heavily in their current and future workforces to prevent it from exploding. This must include investing in all sections of our workforce, in particular women where the UK has an especially poor record. What has been needed is extra support to push companies to adopt more innovative solutions to truly tackle the skills shortage and gender imbalance that exists in our industry.

The fund announced today will do just that and we will be encouraging manufacturers to get involved and take this opportunity to tackle the skills challenge head-on.

Notes to editors

  1. The fund call notice will be placed on the publications pages of the government website Gov.UK from 19 June 2014.
  2. The call notice will contain a link to the Skills Funding Agency website, where employers can find more information about the fund and complete an online application form.
  3. The Employer Ownership Fund (EOF) is part of the government’s reform of the vocational education system and builds on the Employer Ownership Pilot (EOP).
  4. EOF is the main co-investment vehicle to deliver targeted support for vocational education outcomes in key sectors, which cannot be met through the mainstream skills system. The fund opened in May 2014 with an automobile supply chain call. The new calls being announced will focus on engineering skills.
  5. BIS has overall responsibility for the fund, working with the Skills Funding Agency, who is responsible for all operations of the fund – including communicating decisions and issuing grant offer letters.
  6. The focus on engineering arises from a recommendation in the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills. This also follows a series of reports, including Royal Academy of Engineering Report “Jobs and Growth”, which indicated “good econometric evidence that the demand for graduate engineers exceeds supply and the demand is pervasive across all sectors of the economy”.
  7. The fund is open to employers in the targeted sectors. The announcement of individual funding calls and the guidance documents will spell out exactly who is eligible to apply.
  8. The government’s long-term plan is to build a strong, more competitive economy and a fairer society.
    Industrial Strategy gives impetus to the plan for growth by providing businesses, investors and the public with clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.
    The first achievements and future priorities of the industrial strategy have been published and can be found here