'Engineers fear skills shortages but ignore tax relief that would help'
25 Feb 2020
Over a third of UK engineers surveyed worry about skills shortages but more than a fifth of their companies fail to take advantage of tax breaks that would aid them, according to research by professional business experts MPA.
The study of 250 UK engineers, examined some of the biggest challenges presently faced by the sector and perceptions around the industry’s approach to innovation.
The skills shortage easily topped the top five factors that UK engineers feel will have the biggest impact on their sector over the next five years.
The list, in order of size, includes:
Skills shortage 37%
Development of new materials 17%
Data usage 10%
Research & development investment has been identified as a key component of ensuring better skills training. Yet more than half (56%) of respondents said that their company failed to access sources such as Innovate UK, crowdfunding or Local Enterprise Partnerships.
More than one in five (21%) ‘innovation active’ engineering firms said they were not taking advantage of the government’s R&D tax credit scheme that allows companies to claim back up to 33p for every £1 spent on such activity.
On average, claims MPA, engineering companies invest £386,000 a year on R&D activity, meaning they are potentially able to claim £100,360 in funding.
Given that more 100,000 UK qualifying engineering firms are estimated to not be participating, this means that some £10.2 billion could go unclaimed annually.
Nigel Urquhart, senior technical analyst at MPA, said: “Engineering companies in the UK are respected all over the world for their quality and innovation, but we need to ensure that as an industry we are recruiting the best and brightest minds into roles across the sector.
“Initiatives like the R&D tax credit scheme allow businesses to free up vital funds that can be used to fund further innovation, which could help ensure UK engineering stays at the forefront of the industry.”