WS Atkins struggles to find UK staff

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The Independent Online

Engineer WS Atkins is struggling to fill 1,200 British vacancies in the face of stiff competition for talent and concerns that the country is failing to produce enough science graduates.

The company, which designs and plans major projects such as the construction of the Olympic Stadium and the renovation of the Statue of Liberty, is recruiting as chief executive Uwe Krueger eyes new opportunities in energy, defence and aerospace markets.

"It is an important sign that makes me optimistic about our UK business, which, please keep in mind, is also serving international clients," Mr Krueger said.

Atkins is battling for workers in the oil-and-gas world, where demand in locations such as Houston, Texas, and Perth in Western Australia remains hot.

Mr Krueger, who took the top job last year, added: "The other uncomfortable truth is that we are just not churning out enough talented young engineers at the moment.

"There is more that we would need from a market perspective."

Trade bodies estimate that engineering firms need to recruit another 2.2 million people over the next five to 10 years to fuel industry growth and replace those people who are retiring. Some companies are already recruiting from overseas.