IMechE welcomes call to boost foreign engineer numbers
4 Jun 2019
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers has welcomed calls by a key advisory body for employers to be allowed to hire foreign engineers more easily.
The Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) latest report recommends that a wide variety of engineering jobs should be added to the Home Office’s Shortage Occupation List (SOL).
Referenced are those employed in production and process engineering , plus quality control, planning, civil, mechanical, electrical, electronics, design and development, production and process engineers.
The committee also noted that electrical engineers were among the occupations most in shortage in the UK. Additionally, it stated that Scotland had a specific need for chemical engineers within the nuclear industry.
IMechE head of education and skills, Peter Finegold, remarked: “We are pleased that the Migration Advisory Committee is recommending adding mechanical engineering to the Shortage Occupation List. Despite contributing £1.23 trillion to the UK’s total turnover, the engineering industry retains a persistent skills shortage.”
British engineering’s shortage of personnel has been highlighted for years and is tipped to worsen.
The IMechE stated there was an undoubted mismatch between the value and opportunities in engineering with recruitment and retention.
“Not only is the sector disproportionately male and not ethnically diverse, it is also ageing with the bulk of the baby boomer engineering population reaching retirement at the same time as an expansion in engineering and other related technologies,” it said in a statement after the advisory committee report was released.
It noted that the industry faced competition from the financial sector for suitable candidates with overlapping talents. The business to business nature of the profession also meant few young people were exposed to the profession unless they had relatives in similar occupations or lived in locations with a strong engineering heritage.
The MAC report highlights how every £1 generated by the engineering sector yields a further £1.45 GVA and that for every 1 person employed by the engineering sector, a further 1.7 jobs are created further down the supply chain.
Inclusion on the SOL allows employees more latitude when hiring from outside the EU and they need not demonstrate that attempts have been made to find suitable candidates from the UK.
While its latest recommendation favour relaxations on a variety of occupational restrictions, the MAC has on several occasions pushed for a harder line.
In 2016 it recommended firms hiring outside the EU should pay a surcharge of £1,000 per person, in order to encourage them to train suitable British staff. It also flagged up its reluctance in the face of NHS Trust and government wishes to keep nursing on the occupation list, saying that both had ignored hiring problems for years.
Read the Migration Advisory Committee 2019 report here.