Careers in engineering and manufacturing must be made more attractive address a “growing skills vacuum,” according to a new report from the Confederation of British Industry contained in SMMT’s Transport News Brief.

The CBI is calling for a cut in tuition fees in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses to give industry a boost and attract more talent.

Its “Engineering the Future” report says there is a particularly acute issue in the number of skilled technicians available to engineering and manufacturing.

CBI Chief Policy Director Katja Hall said, “We do have to play a long game on skills, creating more apprenticeships, but we also need policies for the short-term, including retraining existing workers with in-demand skills in key sectors.

“The growing skills vacuum is threatening the recovery, as demand form firms is outstripping supply.

“Highly-skilled workers are essential for our growth sectors and it will be those young people with science and maths who will go on to become the engineers and new tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow.

Besides a reduction in tuition fees in STEM courses, the CBI also recommends new targets for encouraging women into the sectors and more training options for those already in employment.

The CBI report and call for action comes in the wake of last week’s National Apprenticeship Week which also aims to boost the image of careers in manufacturing and engineering.

Numerous studies show apprentices bring a valuable return on investment for business, particularly in engineering, while the CBI study also shows that those with STEM skills have higher average earnings.

Other reports show that while apprentices are very satisfied with their vocational training, there is still a lack of support and understanding of the options amongst parents and careers advisors.