The new president of the Institution of Civil Engineers has used his presidential address to call for the industry to do more to engage young people in engineering.
Professor Barry Clarke said major schemes such as HS2 cannot happen without engineers and warned more must be done to ensure the skilledworkforce is in place to deliver the UK’s infrastructure needs.
The Royal Academy of Engineering estimates that 820,000 science, engineering and technology professionals will be needed by 2020 - with 80 per cent of these required in engineering.
There are currently around 50,000 civil engineers in the UK with around 5,000 graduates joining civil engineering degree programmes in the UK every year. This year saw a 12 per cent drop in the number of civil engineering course applications.
Mr Clarked said: “Minor infrastructure maintenance, right through to delivering major future projects such as HS2 and whole scale restructuring of our energy infrastructure over the next 10-20 years, cannot happen without engineers.
“The road ahead is challenging, but it is also filled with opportunity at every turn. We – the industry – must do more to engage with young people, improve their understanding of civil engineering and inspire them to consider it as a career. It’s the only way we as a profession can continue to deliver the infrastructure that society so badly needs.”
Mr Clarke pointed to the London 2012 Olympic Park, the Forth Bridge, the Gateshead Millennium Bridge, The Antrim Coast Road and the Cardiff Millennium Stadium as examples of engineers delivering crucial infrastructure.
But he stressed that capturing the imagination of young people required engagement at an early age to ensure they are steered down the right educational path in order to pursue engineering.