The UK must do all it can to produce a higher number of qualified engineers over the years to come, according to one expert in the field.
Professor David Toll, professor of engineering at Durham University and chairman of the Institution of Civil Engineers, has been speaking to the Northern Echo about the state of the engineering sector at the moment and he suggested that more efforts must now be made to encourage more people into the industry.
He said engineers are crucial to the ongoing development of the country, as they are required to build everything from roads and railways to hospitals, schools and flood defences. Without engineers, the nation would be in severe danger of falling behind in the realisation of new infrastructure projects.
In addition to these types of schemes, there is also the potential for engineers to oversee the development of new wind turbines and other vital energy projects, including the maintenance of existing power stations.
With such an important role to carry out, the UK is in urgent need of the required number of engineers, but this is not a reality at the moment.
Professor Toll said: "In the UK, we are currently educating 22,000 graduates and 49,000 apprentices in engineering and technology each year. This is not enough. We need to increase the number of engineers graduating by at least 50 per cent. In some areas we need to increase by up to four times to meet future shortages."
The role of those in engineering jobs is essentially to build civilisations, so the absence of such professionals can be hugely damaging to the country as a whole, both socially and economically.
In recent times, the government has confirmed it is going to spend an additional £3 billion each year in its bid to fund infrastructure projects. Professor Toll said this decision is much-needed but arguably not enough, especially if the nation does not have the capacity and skills to deliver the new work.