The engineering skills-shortage debate has been raised again as the result of a recent report published by Cranfield University in partnership with the Higher Education Academy (HEA). 

Some 46 bodies, ranging from academia and trade groups to manufacturing, materials and design, came to the conclusion that, “a revolutionary improvement in postgraduate education” is required.

This comes as no surprise. The last two years have seen rising student dissatisfaction lead to a 13.5% fall in the number of full time postgraduates.

It’s frustrating to see that, despite currently leading in innovation, the UK’s universities are slowly slipping down international rankings, facing “a collapse in their global position within a generation”.

So what’s being done? The Cranfield report calls for three things; an industry roadmap, a cross-sector taxonomy of postgraduate education and an overhaul of teaching methods to bridge the gap between student and industry needs.

Although this goes some way to combating the problem, more is needed. Having faced these challenges, Accutronics prescribes the use of an innovation strategy. Here, employers must innovate in both product and process development. One way of achieving this is by using Government funded Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).

We face a second-wave of skills shortages if we fail to address the current situation. A serious remodelling of industry and academic collaboration is required if we are to lay the foundation for sustainable growth.

Rob Phillips, managing director, Accutronics