IET Skills For Net Zero And A Green Recovery 7155

IET Skills For Net Zero And A Green Recovery


The latest IET annual skills survey of engineering employers in the UK focuses on the skills requirements for delivering the UK Government’s net-zero target by 2050, the subsequent impacts of COVID-19 on engineering employers, difficulties in recruiting engineers, and employer perceptions of the engineering skills gap. 

The responsibility to drastically reduce our impact on the climate falls on us all, but engineering has an important role to play, and it is vital that we have the right knowledge and skills to address the complex engineering challenges we will face as a result. Our survey outlines the need for industry, government and academia to collaborate to identify the essential skills required to provide a workforce that’s fit for purpose. The results of our survey are broken down into six categories, exploring the current skills challenges employers are facing, their movement towards increased sustainability and how they can respond to future challenges by building skills for a green recovery. 
Below are key findings from each of our categories:

Business views on climate change
  • There is a consensus that the world’s climate is changing as a result of human activity.
  • Engineering employers see national governments as having the most responsibility to tackle climate change, followed by business and industry.
  • A small majority believe net zero by 2050 is achievable for their business, but employers are less assured of the UK’s overall success.
  • 53% believe that it is achievable for their own organisation
  • 37% believe that it is achievable for the UK
Strategies to achieve sustainability
  • Half of engineering employers have a sustainability strategy.
  • Financial incentives to adapt/purchase technologies would motivate over half of employers to lower their impact.
  • Less than one in ten employers have all the skills their strategy needs.
  • 60% will upskill employees
  • 38% will hire for skills
Reaching sustainability: the future
  • One in five have not introduced any technological change to lower their environmental impact over the past five years.
  • Flexible working is the most common area of organisational change to lower environmental impacts.
  • 41% say that time is the biggest barrier to encourage greater engagement with education.
The business context
  • 60% of employers have furloughed staff through the Job Retention Scheme, making it the most commonly taken workforce measure in response to the impact of COVID-19.
  • 55% report that COVID-19 will result in permanent redundancies for up to 10% of their workforce. 
  • Twelve months ago, the top priority was increasing profitability (50%). This priority is also expected in twelve months’ time (57%).
Current workforce needs
  • 33% of engineering employers report that their UK workforce is mostly high or intermediate-skilled (30%). A smaller proportion say their workforce is mostly low-skilled (14%).
  • 47% of engineering employers report currently having difficulties with the skills available to them through recruitment and their internal workforce (46%) however, in five years’ time, smaller proportions expect to have difficulty with external recruitment (38%) or internal skills gaps (34%).
Recruitment difficulties
  • When recruiting, engineering employers most commonly cite that the soft skills lacking are team working or leadership and management skills.
  • University graduates are more likely to NOT understand the realities of work in their industry than technicians or apprentices.
  • 48% of applicants lacking the required technical skills is the main area of difficulty for employers.

By improving the understanding of the net-zero challenge we face, we will be able to create work-ready new recruits that understand the importance of sustainability and the issues around it. Read our full survey to learn the key facts, themes, recommendations, and skills requirements for delivering the UK Government’s net-zero target. 

We want to hear from you!

Are you surprised by any of these findings? Does your organisation have a sustainability strategy? Log in to your online community account to leave your thoughts in the comments below on what we can do to help engineer a better world in which we can reach net zero.
Blog IET Insights 09/02/2021 12:00am GMT