The North East of England, made up of Northumberland, County Durham, Tyne & Wear and Tees Valley, has a long and proud heritage in the Industrial Sector. The pharmaceutical production industry is spread across the Northern region, with specialty and fine chemicals which the automotive, aerospace, agriculture and manufacturing industries rely upon are spread across the middle of the region. Teesside, in the southern most part of the region, produce bulk commodities and petrochemicals and following this the North East economy was dominated by coal mining, shipbuilding and iron and steel production.
Engineering start ups fastest growing in the North East
Currently the North East has the fastest growing number of engineering start ups in the UK, surpassing even London in the last year. Between 2014 and 2015 the number of new engineering business in the North East increased from 593 to 700, a 17.6% increase. Compared to London which saw an 11.8% increase and the number across the whole of the UK saw a 5% increase.
The North East has established itself as the engineering powerhouse of the UK with over 1 billion pounds being invested into the area since 2003 and with large multinationals including Nissan, Hitachi, Caterpillar and Komatsu in the area. It has a strong presence in the rail, aerospace and defence sectors so many of the emerging engineering businesses are in support of the supply chain to these multinationals.
Engineering skills shortages hinder the industry
However there are skills shortages starting to arise as many senior engineers are approaching retirement age and previously the uptake in apprenticeships have not been as high since being affected by the recession. Studies commissioned by The Royal Academy of Engineering have shown that the British industry will require 100,000 new graduates every year in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) until 2020 just to maintain current employment numbers. Currently the UK produces 90,000 STEM graduates each year but a number of these are international students who will not obtain work permits after completing their studies here. The study further suggests that a quarter of engineering students choose jobs in other sectors too so there is still a large scale of skill shortages.
Promoting and championing science and technology subjects
Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said: “Engineering is a growth industry that has the potential to continue to drive productivity in the UK. This is a great opportunity, tempered only by concern about the need to train many more engineering if we are not to be left behind by countries like South Korea and Germany.”
Peter Finegold, Head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Without the development of these skills, the UK will be unable to complete the vital infrastructure projects in the transport and energy sectors the country so desperately needs. We need enough people with the right skills to be confident of the country’s economic growth. We need to change the way engineering is promoted and make it more attractive to more students by championing the creative aspects of the discipline and the fundamental role engineers play in our society to sectors as diverse as healthcare, food production and conservation.”
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