Only 7% of engineering companies in the UK say they have the skills needed to fulfil their sustainability strategies, according to a survey conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).
The survey revealed that only half of firms think that achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is achievable.
When considering who should be accountable for tackling climate change, the majority of respondents said that the responsibility lies with national government (25%), this was followed by businesses and industry (20%).
The economic impact of Covid-19 has also seen a shift in priorities meaning that sustainability is further down the agenda.
According to the survey, twelve months ago increasing profitability was the top priority for businesses (50%).
This has now been replaced with the well being of staff (68%) and dealing with economic changes/uncertainty (68%). Recruiting staff with new skills is currently the lowest priority for engineering employers.
Stephanie Baxter, IET Skills and Innovation Lead said: ‘To deliver on the UK’s net-zero challenge, the standout issue with recruitment is a lack of people with the right specialist skills or knowledge and this poses a huge risk to advancing our green recovery.
‘This is coupled with a huge change in business priorities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst only 7% of businesses with a green recovery strategy say they have the right skills needed to fulfil it, recruitment overall at this time is their lowest priority. We now need to consider the economic impact this will have on furthering the UK’s sustainability agenda and our collective ability to achieve net-zero targets by 2050.”
‘It’s disappointing to see there is still a low perception to the quality of young people entering the engineering sector. We believe by improving the understanding of the net-zero challenge we face; we will be able to create work-ready recruits that understand the importance of sustainability and ability to tackle problems that don’t yet have a known solution.
‘The responsibility to reduce the impact on the climate rests on all of us and industry, government and educators now need to collaborate to identify and deliver the essential skills needed to deliver a fit for purpose workforce to achieve our net-zero targets.’
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