The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is calling on Government, employers, Professional Engineering Institutions and academia to get their act together and urgently accelerate moves to boost the number of people taking on careers in engineering.
Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “There is still a wide-spread failure to grasp the scale of the skills gap facing the UK.
"On the face of it, the latest figures from the Engineering Council look good with the number of professional engineers across the country growing by 17% last year.
"But with the ageing workforce and so many retiring from engineering, the total number of engineers and technicians in the country increased by only 3 people.
"We need 100,000 professionals each year to give our country any chance of sustainable growth for the future.
"The figures are deeply worrying and frankly not far short of pathetic.
“Whilst it is encouraging to see growth in the number of professional mechanical engineers, the overall picture is bleak and nowhere near meeting the demands of our future economy.
“Furthermore in 2013 just 5% of professional engineers were female.
"Seemingly, all the efforts over the last year to attract females to this exciting career have had almost no effect whatsoever.
“I am convinced the Government has got the message, but I’m not convinced we are all doing what it takes to deliver in time.
"We need to scale up our efforts significantly, urgently and strategically.
"We need real leadership - now - to stop us falling over a cliff-edge.
"There are far too many engineering institutions, many of which are becoming increasing irrelevant for a technological 21st century: they need to get together, get real and innovate.
"The capacity of both Higher Education and Further Education needs to be increased now with a regime-change in funding mechanisms and priorities.
"And employers need to do much more to open themselves up to schools in a coordinated way to show just how rewarding and varied jobs in engineering and science can be.”
Overall, the Engineering Council’s register of professionally registered engineers showed that there were 222,603 professional engineers in 2013, compared with 222,600 in 2012 and 248,418 ten years ago – a decline of 10% over 10 years.
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers outperformed other Professional Engineering Institutions, and saw a 3.3% rise in new registrants in 2013.
This is 17% more new professional engineers across the main grades of registration than any other Professional Engineering Institution.
A total of 2,619 new Engineering Technicians, Incorporated Engineers and Chartered Engineers joined the Institution last year.
The Institution also registered the highest number of female Chartered Engineers in 2013, with 188 women gaining professional registration across the main grades.
Of the total newly registered professional engineers, 1,767 were new Chartered Engineers – a 23% increase on the previous year – 326 were new Incorporated Engineers – a 61% increase on 2012 – and 526 were new Engineering Technicians, 19% rise year-on-year.
The Institution has seen a growth of over 100% over the last five years in the number of Chartered Engineers.