Ever since the Brexit news first hit, newspapers and magazines alike have been full of articles detailing potential ramifications of Brexit. With so much uncertainty in the air, it is hard to say what predications are likely and which are fantasy. One real prospect of Brexit on the engineering sector is the skills gap it would cause. In this article we will be investigating this, as well as looking at how these risks can be mitigated.
Potential Ramifications of the Brexit News
Brexit will have a lasting effect on the UK engineering industry for a number of reasons. In many ways, the Brexit news could end up benefitting the sector; for instance, the low value of the pound at the moment has seen to increase UK manufacturing output and exporting. However, one of the biggest potential negative impacts of Brexit is the effect that will have on the calibre of employees companies can hire.
There is already a skills gab in engineering, and this is only going to increase in the coming years. Statistics from Engineering UK state that the UK will need at least 182,000 engineers each year until 2022 to work on major projects in the pipeline for the UK. Our universities educate and develop engineers. These institutions can take in students from all over the world and especially from European countries. It is currently unclear how Brexit will effect this. We don’t know whether less foreign students will want to study in the UK or how easy it would be for them to.
There is also the issue of free movement to consider. The great benefits to UK engineering companies from the European Union is the single market. Companies can hire engineers from all across Europe for UK projects. Under our current government, all indications seem to be that we will leave the single market, halting companies access to easily hire European talent. As a result, less competition benefits UK engineers. Considering the industry overall however this could lead to a serious skills gap.
How to Mitigate the Skill Shortage
The big issues around the effects of Brexit are at the moment subject to uncertainty. We just don’t know what will happen, or how the results of the upcoming election will effect things. However, the government needs to work with engineering companies and leaders to address these issues.
Firstly, a deal should be made for European students studying in the UK. For instance, foreign students should be taken out of immigration statistics for the UK. Universities should also be consulted and worked with to ensure all negotiations protect the rights of current EU students and professionals.
Access to the single market will certainly aid the skills gap. A government which seeks a soft Brexit will therefore greatly benefit UK engineering companies. If not, comprehensive and mutually beneficial trade deals need agreeing with the EU. This must ensure EU professionals can work in the UK without excessive regulations and bureaucracy stopping this or putting it off.