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UK Engineering Employers Struggle with Climate Change Resilience Skills, Reveals IET Survey

by Anna

A recent international survey by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has exposed a significant skills gap among UK engineering employers when it comes to climate change resilience. The survey reveals that eight in 10 UK engineering employers lack the necessary skills to effectively navigate the impacts of climate change.

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Internally, nearly two-thirds of UK businesses express concerns about the potential impact of climate change on their organizations. Among those with a sustainability strategy, three-quarters admit the need for additional skills to successfully implement it. Notably, a third of UK engineering employers have a sustainability strategy aimed at achieving net-zero status, but many report lacking specialist sustainability skills, knowledge, whole systems thinking, and agile mindsets, among other critical competencies.

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While UK employers are among eight nations favoring upskilling and reskilling, the UK stands out as the least likely to offer training in emerging technologies such as augmented reality, virtual reality, and simulations.

The education system also faces criticism in the survey, with nearly two-thirds of employers agreeing that it does not adequately prepare graduates for the industry. In response, almost half of UK employers suggest incorporating more industry placement years, while over a third believe that industry-targeted projects would better equip graduates for the workforce.

Stephanie Baxter, head of policy at the IET, emphasizes the urgency of addressing the skills deficit, stating, “The skills deficit means we are not ready and resilient to tackle climate change, both in the UK and beyond.” Baxter stresses the importance of agility and whole systems thinking as key skills for reaching net-zero goals and adapting to climate change. She calls for increased emphasis on training and upskilling, particularly in innovative thinking and problem-solving.

The survey underscores low confidence among employers in the UK’s education pipeline, prompting calls for greater collaboration between industry and universities. Baxter advocates for targeted placements in critical skill deficit areas, such as nuclear technologies and digital twins.

In conclusion, the survey highlights a missed opportunity for digitalization and net-zero efforts among UK engineering employers. Baxter urges the UK government to play a facilitating role in upskilling for the sustainable use of technologies, emphasizing the increasing importance of skills in areas such as AI and digital twins in the future.

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