Teenagers are turning their backs on engineering and threatening the future of the UK economy in the process according to industrialists, writes Tim Ross of the Press Association.
Thousands of students have deserted college courses in engineering, technology and manufacturing, with potentially damaging consequences for the economy, research has found.
Figures from the Engineering and Technology Board (ETB) showed a 26 per cent fall in student numbers on these vocational courses over the past three years. The board warned that the decline threatened to undermine the future health of British industry, with 2 million people employed as engineering technicians.
John Morton, the ETB chief executive, welcomed a rise in the number of university undergraduates taking engineering courses but said the picture in FE was worrying.
"The huge decrease in the number of students on engineering courses in further education is making the Treasury commissioned Leitch review on the UK's skills needs seem less like a warning and more of a prediction," he said.
"If we do not turn the tide on the number of skilled technicians, the UK will experience diminishing economic growth."
The Shadow Chancellor, George Osborne, shared these concerns. "Britain was once the engineering workshop of the world but now we are struggling to keep up in the face of fierce global competition," he said.