Just half of UK engineering firms believe they will achieve net-zero by 2050, according to survey

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4th February 2021 17:18 - Engineering

Just half of UK engineering firms believe they will achieve net-zero by 2050: A survey of engineering companies in the UK has revealed that just 53% believe they will be able to meet the government's target of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Looking at the wider picture, the survey by the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) found that 56% of companies believe it will not be possible for the UK as a whole to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by the middle of the century.

Respondents were asked about who they feel is responsible for ensuring the net emissions deadline is met, with a quarter stating they believe responsibility lies with the national government (25%), while a fifth said 'businesses and industry' (20%).

The survey also revealed that the priorities of firms has changed in the last 12 months, as a result of Covid-19. According to the findings, 'the wellbeing of staff' (68%) and 'dealing with economic changes and uncertainty' (68%) are now the most important focus for engineering businesses. This is in contrast to twelve months ago when the most important factor was 'increasing profitability' (50%).

The least important objective in the most recent survey was 'recruiting staff with new skills'.

Looking at skills, the research found that almost half the engineering firms polled said they were experiencing skills gaps (46%).  Almost half tsaid they were choosing to upskill or retrain their existing employees to bridge gaps (47%), while 44% were hiring new workers who have the needed skills. A third said they have taken on apprentices (32%).

When it comes to apprentices, 38% of firms said that they do not understand the realities of work in their industry and do not have the needed technical skills (34%). Nearly half the employers polled (43%) also said that university graduates to not have the necessary skills needed.

Stephanie Baxter, IET Skills and Innovation Lead said of the findings: "To deliver on the UK’s net-zero challenge, the standout issue with recruitment is a lack of people with the right specialist skills or knowledge and this poses a huge risk to advancing our green recovery.

"This is coupled with a huge change in business priorities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst only 7% of businesses with a green recovery strategy say they have the right skills needed to fulfil it, recruitment overall at this time is their lowest priority."

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