From education to employment

Open letter to Boris Johnson to tackle the UK’s engineering skills shortage

Boris Johnson Walking

Today (17 Nov) @TheIET has joined forces with over 150 world-leading engineers, STEM ambassadors, professional institutions, and celebrities to urge the Government to help tackle the UK’s engineering skills shortage by embedding engineering into current primary school learning and support #EngineeringKidsFutures.

It’s vital that the Government joins this campaign and commits to securing our future as a nation of innovators.

Innovators whose skills will be more crucial than ever in the coming decades as we tackle the global challenges posed by achieving net zero and meeting our COP26 pledges.

The engineering skills gap is not a new issue. In fact, over the past 15 years, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has been urging every government that there is a crisis brewing.

With still a shortfall of over 173,000 workers in the STEM sector, now is the time we want action from the Government to invest in our children, who will be our engineering innovators of the future.

Led by Professor Danielle George MBE, Immediate Past President of the IET and Engineering Kids’ Futures ambassador, we are calling on the Government to plug the nation’s growing STEM skills gap, which is costing the economy a shocking £1.5bn per annum.

In an open letter to the Prime Minister, signed by the likes of Dr Iain Baillie, President of BINDT, and CEO of WISE, Kay Hussain, as well as more than 150 others including Major Tim Peake, Carol Vorderman MBE,, and representatives from Rolls Royce, Vodafone and the MOD, we have appealed to the government to work together with educators and industry to develop practical support for teachers of our youngest children and embed engineering in their existing STEM learning.

Professor Danielle George commented on the campaign:

“To ‘build back better’ and fully embrace the ‘green industrial revolution’ promised by the government it is essential to start with solid foundations. By adding more focus on misunderstood terms like engineering and technology, where we know there is a perception problem, it will help young people from all backgrounds learn vital engineering and tech skills early on and increase their career aspirations.”

Therefore, we are asking the government to join the campaign and contribute to securing our future as a nation of innovators. Innovators whose skills will be more crucial than ever in the coming decades as we tackle the global challenges posed by achieving net zero and meeting our COP26 pledges.

This isn’t a way; this is the only way to ensure we are nurturing our children’s curiosity about the advancing world around them from the earliest age and ensuring that we help our children, engineer our future.

Engineering Kids’ Futures

An open letter to the Government regarding the teaching of engineering in our schools:

Dear Prime Minister

CC: Secretary of State for Education, The Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP

I am writing to you regarding the teaching of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in UK primary schools and how government, academia and industry – can come together to ensure teachers are equipped and empowered to inspire children about the vital, but often missing, E – engineering.

Children eagerly learn about science and maths, but the connection to engineering – the link between these subjects, their purpose and application to the world in which we live – is not currently being made. We need to ensure there are clearer learning outcomes for these subjects linked to engineering.

As you have already identified, one of the most powerful things we, as a nation, can do to Build Back Better is to invest in science, engineering and technology. However, this investment cannot be restricted to a focus on outputs; we must invest in our children, who will be our engineering innovators of the future.

There is currently a shortfall of over 173,000 workers in the STEM sector: an average of 10 unfilled roles per business in the UK [1]. Our latest skills survey identifies that half (49%) of engineering and technology businesses are experiencing difficulties in the skills available to them when trying to recruit [2]. This is a skills challenge that we have tracked for the last 15 years – longer than the time it takes for a primary aged-child to complete their education. Future skills need addressing now.

This has a serious negative impact on our economy, which is estimated to suffer a loss of £1.5bn per year due to these engineering and technology skills shortages.

We believe the solution to this skills gap lies in education. By adding more focus on misunderstood disciplines like engineering where we know there is a perception problem, it will help young people from all backgrounds better understand how STEM can be applied, increase their career aspirations and develop other skills such as creativity and problem-solving.

We propose a collaboration between the Government, STEM education supporters, academia, and industry to provide teachers with the tools they need to showcase that science, design & technology and maths all have vital elements of engineering within them and proactively encourage the teaching of engineering in our primary schools.

Our aim is to embed engineering into current primary learning without additional pressure on the curriculum, so children start to become familiar with the term and what it means from an earlier age. This is vital if we are to reinforce the link between the more academic subjects and their practical application through engineering in our everyday lives.

We feel this focus and support for schools is fundamental to help futureproof the next generation of engineers and would also empower more young people to consider careers in STEM that may not have previously been accessible to them. These benefits extend far beyond the classroom – from higher career earnings to better job satisfaction, our research shows that those in STEM careers can achieve life goals such as financial independence much sooner than their peers.

Engineers are problem solvers, with a unique world perspective. Many of our national challenges such as climate change, improving healthcare for all and digital transformation, all have engineering at the heart.  We have a real opportunity to help our children, engineer our future.

Our proposal:

  • We want to work with our many partners across government, education, professional institutions, and industry to fix this problem.
  • We ask that the Government join us as we host a series of roundtables in the coming months with stakeholders to understand how engineering can be better embedded into the primary school curriculum without additional pressure being placed on teaching staff.
  • We are calling on the Government to advocate for this change by committing to providing practical support in our ambition to pilot the outcome of these discussions in a small number of schools in the 2022-2023 academic year.
  • For the Government to support further rollout, if it’s deemed a success, in future years, with the aim that engineering learning outcomes are established in the primary syllabus for science and maths.

This isn’t a way; this is the only way to ensure we are nurturing our children’s curiosity about the rapidly advancing world around them from the earliest age. Yes, science and maths play a fundamental role, but we must teach them that the application of these subjects is called engineering.

Yours sincerely

Professor Danielle George MBE, Immediate Past President, The IET and #EngineeringKidsFutures ambassador


  1. Adam Horton, Head of Technical, SA Group
  2. Adam Taylor MSc BEng (Hons) CEng MIET, Plant Manager, Lhoist
  3. Air Vice Marshal John Main CB OBE FRENG Hon FIET FRAeS RAF(Ret’d)
  4. Alan Thom, Maintenance Team Manager, Northumbrian Water
  5. Alasdair Coates BEng (Hons) MSc CEng FICE MCIHT CMIOSH, Chief Executive Officer, The Engineering Council
  6. Alex Gray BEng (Hons) CEng MIET, Head of Operational Technology, Thames Water
  7. Alexandra Knight CEng FIMechE FWES, Founder & Director, STEMAZING Ltd
  8. Alison Thomas, Director, Coderus
  9. Alistair Somerville, President Elect, Institute of Acoustics
  10. Amanda Cooper IEng MIET AAPM, UK Head of Strategic Capability Planning, Thales UK Limited
  11. Ammaarah Ravat, Graduate Compliance Engineer, Cummins Inc
  12. Andrew Short CEng MIET, Principal Electronics Engineer, Renishaw plc
  13. Andrew Smyth MEng MIET ARAeS, Presenter & Aerospace Engineer, Rolls-Royce plc
  14. Andy Hughes BEng (Hons) CEng FIET MIoD, Managing Director, AGH Engineering Ltd
  15. Andy Thomis MEng ACGI FIET, Chief Executive, Cohort plc
  16. Ann Allen MBE, Chief Executive Officer, Chartered Institution of Civil Engineering Surveyors
  17. Ashley Smith BEng, LNG Terminal Electrical Engineer, National Grid
  18. Ben Obiri-Bonney CEng MIET, Substations Asset Lifecycle Management Engineer, National Grid
  19. Bethany Probert BSc (Hons) EngTech MIET, Consultant Engineer, Capgemini Engineering UK
  20. Bina Taylor BA, HR Advisor, General Dynamics
  21. Blane Judd BEng FCGI CEng FIET, Chief Executive, Institution of Railway Signal Engineers
  22. Bobby Seagull, Mathematics Teacher, Writer and Presenter
  23. Burns & McDonnell
  24. Callum Daniel, Founder, iCodeRobots and IET Young STEM Personality of the Year 2021
  25. Captain (Tfc) Chris Brown R Signals CEng MIET BSc (Hons) PG Cert, MOD
  26. Captain Roy Organ MSc CEng, Royal Signals
  27. Captain Steven Valentine BEng(H) CMgr MCMI MIET MInstRE, Garrison Engineer, MOD
  28. Captain Stuart Yates, Technical Officer Telecommunications, MOD
  29. Carl Haycock BEng, UK Operations Director, Domino Printing
  30. Carol Vorderman MBE MA, IET Honorary Fellow
  31. Catherine Allen, Founder, Limina Immersive
  32. Chris Morgan CEng MIET, Senior Process Engineer Mortars, BAE Systems Land UK
  33. Christopher Clark, Knowledge Management & Future Capability Lead, BMT Global
  34. Colin Cooper BSc (Hons) MIET CEng, Senior Controls System Engineer, Actemium Automation Nottingham
  35. Dallas Campbell, television presenter on the factual Channel 5 series The Gadget Show and BBC One science series Bang Goes the Theory
  36. Dan Francis MIET, Principal Engineer, CEMA Ltd
  37. David Midwinter, Coderus
  38. David Moore BA (Hons) PG (Dip) EP MIET, Chief Executive Officer, GES Group
  39. David Pearce CEng MIET, Regional Engineering Manager Midlands, Allied Bakeries
  40. David Shammas, Protection Services Manager, Dagem Power
  41. David Sherburn, Defence Science and Technology, DSTL
  42. David Woolhouse, Chief Executive Officer, Intelligent Energy
  43. Dawn Bonfield MBE CEng FIMMM FICE HonFIStructE FWES HonDEng, Royal Academy of Engineering Visiting Professor of Inclusive Engineering, Aston University
  44. Denize Ivy Pilarta EngTech AMInstNDT, Non-Destructive Examination Engineering Technician at BAE Systems
  45. Dr Alice Bunn FIMechE, Chief Executive, The Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  46. Dr Colin Church CEnv FIMMM, CEO of Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining
  47. Dr Dame Sue Ion FREng FRS, IET Honorary Fellow
  48. Dr Dolores Byrne OBE, IET Honorary Fellow
  49. Dr Hermann Hauser FRS FREng KBE, Amadeus Capital Partners, IET Honorary Fellow
  50. Dr Iain Baillie, President, British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing (BINDT)
  51. Dr James H Sharp, Principal Engineer, Software and Systems Dependability Team, Dstl
  52. Dr Melanie Jimenez, Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow and Chancellor’s Fellow Biomedical Engineering, University of Strathclyde
  53. Dr Ozak Esu BEng PhD CEng MIET, Technical Project Manager R&D, Hilti Group
  54. Dr Paul Gosling FREng DPhil BSc FIET FInsP CEng Cphys, CTO, Thales UK
  55. Duncan Abercrombie MSc CEng FIET FRAeS, Senior Principal Engineer, Dstl
  56. Ella Podmore MEng, Materials Engineer, McLaren Automotive and IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2020
  57. Engineering Development Trust (EDT)
  58. Engineering in Motion
  59. Eur Ing David Tester CEng FIET, Director of Engineering, EnSilica
  60. Eur Ing Gary Hicks CEng IntPE CMgr BEng (Hons) FIET MCMI, Electrification and Power Discipline Lead, AECOM
  61. Eur Ing Savvas Savvides DipEE MBA MCGI CEng, IET Honorary Fellow
  62. Eva McClean, EDI and Member Networks Manager, Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine (IPEM)
  63. Gareth Caple BSc FIET, Associate Director, Accenture
  64. Gavin Dunn, Chief Executive and John Barfoot, Learning Education and Academic Director, Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE)
  65. Gavin Young CEng FIET, Head of Fixed Access Centre, Vodafone
  66. George O’Neill BSc MSc CEng, IET Honorary Fellow
  67. Giles Thomas, Phase 1 Engineering Director, HS2 Ltd
  68. Glyn Shawcross CEng FIET MlnstMC FSeng (TÜV Rheinland), Engineering and Design Director, BGEN
  69. Gordon Burrows BEng (Hons) CEng MIET, Chair – IET Scotland
  70. Greenpower Trust
  71. Hannah Lawrence, Cyber Investigator, GE Aviation EdisonWorks
  72. Hannah Russell FRSB, Chief Executive, The Association for Science Education
  73. Heather Burtenshaw CEng MIMechE BEng (Hons) PGCE (FE&T), Principal Engineer, BAE Sytems Land UK and STEM ambassador
  74. Helen Kellaway MEng (Hons) CEng MIET AMIRSE, Assistant Chief Engineer, Rail Infrastructure at Siemens Mobility Limited
  75. Henrietta Heald FRSA, Writer and Historian of the Women’s Engineering Society
  76. Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive Officer, EngineeringUK
  77. Ian Ratcliffe BSc (Hons) CEng MIET, Senior Principal Engineer, Dstl
  78. Institute of Explosives Engineers
  79. Institution of Civil Engineers
  80. Ir Dr N F Chin Hon FIET
  81. Jack Pendle MBA CEng FIMechE FIET FPWI, Engineering Director, Volker Rail
  82. James Billingham BSc DMS CEng MIET, General Manager, Tata Motors European Technical Centre plc
  83. James Crouch, Engineering Director, Burns & McDonnell
  1. Jamie Davey, Director of Engineering, Arrow Electronics
  2. Jamie Everest BSc(Hons) CEng MBCS, Principal Engineer, General Dynamics Missions Systems
  3. Jane Atkinson CBE, Engineering and Automation Executive Director, Bilfingers UK Limited
  4. Jim S. Al-Khalili CBE FRS, Professor of Theoretical Physics and the Public Engagement in Science, University of Surrey
  5. John Baxter CEng FIET CEnv FSOE CFIOSH, Asset Governance Manager, EON UK
  6. John McCollum CEng FRAeS, Engineering Director GCS Mobilisation, BAE Systems Maritime Naval Ships
  7. John Quinn CEng MIET, Principal Software Engineer, Siemens
  8. Katherine Paynter MEng MIET, Defence and Security Accelerator, Dstl
  9. Kay Hussain, CEO, WISE
  10. Kevin Wellman, Chief Executive Officer, The Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating
  11. Kim Hollands, Engineering Training Manager, South Eastern Railway
  12. Larry Aiyedogbon BEng MSc CEng MIET, Associate Utilities, Stantec
  13. LCA Group
  14. Lee Derbyshire BEng (Hons) MIET, Engineering Director, LCA Group
  15. Lewis Gorford, Senior Electronics Engineer, Analox Group
  16. Lisa Marriott MA, New Talent Development Specialist, National Grid
  17. Louise Hazelton MSc IEng, Senior Engineer, Dstl
  18. Lt Col (Retd) David White BSc CEng MIET MCGI REME, Corps Secretary, MOD
  19. Luke Folwell CIWFM CMgr IEng, Head of Technical, Equans Group
  20. Lynne Bianchi, Director of Science & Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub and the Great Science Share for Schools Campaign Director
  21. Mark Baker, Head of Engineering, Allied Bakeries
  22. Mark Heath, Director of Engineering, McLaren
  23. Mark Josko, Engineering Specialist, Schneider Digital
  24. Mark Plant, CEng FIET MIHEEM, Regional Director, Services Design Solution
  25. Martin Belshaw BSc CEng MInstMC, President, Institute of Measurement and Control
  26. Matt Kirk CEng FIET, Sumitomo Electric Wiring Systems (Europe) Ltd
  27. Melanie Wardle, Group HR Director, VVB Engineering (UK) Ltd
  28. Michael Hetherington MIET CEng
  29. Michael Singleton BSc (Hons) MSc CEng MIET, Information Advantage Technical Integration Manager, BAE Systems
  30. Mike Bentman, CBRE GWS, UK Director of Technical Operations
  31. Milo Noblet MEng (Hons) MIET, Graduate Electronic Engineer, Dstl
  32. Mohammed Y. Tageldin Younes MSc PMP CEng, Head of Engineering, Linxon UK Ltd
  33. Nathan Clow BEng (Hons) MEng CEng SMIEEE FIET, Principal Engineering, Dstl
  34. Neil Griffith CMgr IEng, Head of Operations and Support, Collins Aerospace
  35. Neil Owen CEng FIET MINCOSE, Principal Engineer, Dstl
  36. Nigel Fine CEng FICE FIET, Chief Executive and Secretary, the Institution of Engineering and Technology
  37. Oliver Mangham BEng (Hons) MIET, Applications Director, Fairfield Control Systems Ltd
  38. Olivia Flaherty, Cyber Researcher, MOD
  39. Ore Oduba BSc and Honorary Doctor of Bournemouth and Loughborough universities, television presenter
  40. Paul Dale BSc (Hons) IEng MIET, Technical Director, Powell
  41. Paul Livingston, Chief Executive, Lockheed Martin UK
  42. Paul Walker CEng MIET MEI, Electrical Technical Authority, Centrica Storage Ltd
  43. Peter Flinn MBA MA CEng FIMechE, President, The Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  44. Primary Engineer
  45. Professor Bob Stone FCIEHF CPsychol AFBPS, Emeritus Professor, University of Birmingham
  46. Professor Christopher Aiden-Lee Jackson, Chair in Sustainability Geoscience, The University of Manchester
  47. Professor Eleanor Stride OBE FREng, IET Honorary Fellow
  48. Professor Herzl Aharoni BSc MSc PhD CEng, IET Honorary Fellow
  49. Professor Kel Fidler CEng FREng, IET Honorary Fellow
  50. Professor Nick Colosimo PgC BSc (Hons) CEng FIET FIKE, FCAS Lead Engineer, BAE Systems UK Air
  51. Professor Sir Michael Sterling KB BEng PhD DEng CEng FREng FAEng FIET FInstMC FCSEE CCMI, IET Honorary Fellow
  52. Professor Stephanie Haywood CPhys CEng FInstP, IET Honorary Fellow, Professor Emerita, University of Hull
  53. Professor Will Stewart, FREng BSc MSc CEng, IET Honorary Fellow
  54. Rev Stuart Poole MSc BSc (Eng) CEng, IET Honorary Fellow
  55. Rodger Howarth BENG (Hons) CENG MIET, Application Engineering Manager, Siemens plc
  56. Sam Greer, Education & Employability Manager, SSE plc
  57. Sam Hubbard IEng FIET, Senior Engineer, Urenco
  58. Sarah Gregory, Director of HR, JJ Churchill Ltd
  59. Shane Bennison MSc CEng FIET FRAeS, UK Systems Engineering Director, Thales UK Limited
  60. Shrouk El-Attar MEng, Senior Electronics Engineer, emm Technology
  61. Simon Ratcliffe, UK Group Engineering Director, Wabtec Faiveley UK Rail
  62. Sir Julian Young KBE CB FREng CEng FIET, President of the Institution of the Engineering and Technology
  63. Stacy Von Dolah-Evans, Global Strategic Executive, Schneider Electric
  64. Stephen Kitchen BEng CEng MIET MInstMC, Head of Maintenance, Sellafield Ltd
  65. Stephen Metcalfe MP, IET Honorary Fellow
  66. Steve Ayres BSc CEng FIET, Design Certification Specialist and Technical and Process SME, Thales UK Group
  67. Steve Campbell MBA CEng FIET FCIBSE, Technical Director, NG Bailey
  68. Steve Markham CQP MCQI IEng MIET FInstLM MCMI MWeldI GradIOSH MIIRSM,
    Director, STM Quality Limited
  69. Steve Tellwright, HR Director, Capula
  70. Stewart Gregory, Vice-President, Power Products, Schneider Electric UK and Ireland
  71. Suw Charman-Anderson BSc (Hons) FRSA, Founder & CEO, Ada Lovelace Day
  72. The Renishaw Education Outreach team, Renishaw plc
  73. The Smallpeice Trust
  74. Tim Peake CMG, British ESA astronaut and IET Honorary Fellow
  75. Tom Ross, Head of Sales, ALPHR Technology Limited
  76. Tom Smith BSc (Hons) MSc CEng
  77. Tony Knight BEng(Hons) CEng MIET CMgr MCMI MINCOSE, Lead Systems Engineer, QinetiQ
  78. Tony Ryan, Chief Executive Officer, The Design and Technology Association
  79. Trevor Grimshaw, IET Honorary Fellow
  80. Victoria Conway, Communications Lead for Defence Equipment Engineering Function, MOD Abbey Wood
  81. Virginia Hodge, BSc MSc CEng, IET Honorary Fellow
  82. W02 ND Brown IEng MIET, Bde YofS, HQ 20th Armoured Brigade Combat Team
  83., IET Honorary Fellow
  84. Ying Wan Loh CEng MIET, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2019

[1] IET ‘Addressing the STEM skills shortage challenge’ report, 11 June 2021

[2] ‘IET Skills Survey 2021’. Research conducted by YouGov. Fieldwork dates: 6th August – 2nd September 2021

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