View all news

UK Electronics Skills Foundation established to address threat of diminishing skills

From left to right: John Moor (NMI), Mark Beach (University of Bristol), Wendy Daniell (NMI) and Derek Boyd (CEO, NMI)

From left to right: John Moor (NMI), Mark Beach (University of Bristol), Wendy Daniell (NMI) and Derek Boyd (CEO, NMI)

27 January 2010

The University of Bristol is part of the newly created UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF), which aims to increase and sustain the supply of industry-ready graduate engineers and boost career take-up in the sector.

To address the threat of diminishing skills in the UK electronics sector the National Microelectronics Institute (NMI) has announced the creation of the UK Electronics Skills Foundation (UKESF).  The foundation, which includes the University of Bristol, aims to increase and sustain the supply of industry-ready graduate engineers and boost career take-up in the sector.

Derek Boyd, NMI CEO, said: “The dramatic decline in the numbers of Electronic Engineering graduates will present the country with a long term issue if left unchecked.  NMI has identified the underlying problems in the existing skills pipeline which undermine the future prospects of the industry and UKESF has been created to tackle the major issues. Its goal is to ensure that the sector is supplied with the quality of talent to enable it to continue to be innovative, competitive and able to provide high-value jobs to support the wider economy.”

UKESF is a partnership of private companies, public bodies and leading UK universities, and will initially focus on:

  • Encouraging electronics employers to engage with schools in order to raise awareness of the sector and the variety of career opportunities it offers.
  • Electronics summer schools to attract school students towards studying for electronics engineering degrees and careers in Electronic Engineering.
  • A scholarship scheme, accessible to small and large companies, to link undergraduate students with electronics companies for work experience and to encourage progression into careers within the sector.

The foundation has been launched with initial start-up funding from founder partners NMI, BIS (Department for Business Innovation and Skills), SEMTA (The Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies), ARM , Cambridge Silicon Radio, Dialog Semiconductor and  Imagination Technologies.  Founder university partners are Bristol, Edinburgh, Imperial College, Southampton and Surrey.

Mark Beach, Professor of Radio Systems Engineering and Head of the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering at Bristol University, said: “This scheme will help underpin the electronics sector with high calibre undergraduate students in the UK and ensure new talent in the coming years.

“The foundation is an essential component in the long road of UK economic recovery and will help place the country as a global technology leader in this field.”

Minister for Higher Education, David Lammy, said: “It is essential that we raise awareness of the rewarding careers available to young people in our growth industries, such as those in the electronics sector and this new foundation will help provide the high quality industry-ready graduates we need for economic success.”

The UKESF operational plan aims to have achieved the following levels of engagement with school and undergraduate students, companies and universities within five years:

  • 80 young people (16-17 year olds) on summer schools each year.
  • 1,600 pupils (all ages) reached every year through employers engaging with schools.
  • 160 new undergraduate scholarships every year.
  • Over 100 sponsoring companies.
  • Over 50 companies engaging with schools.
  • Ten partner universities across England, Scotland and Wales.


Further information

The UK electronics industry

Estimated to be worth £23 billion a year, the UK electronics industry is currently the fifth largest in the world. The UK sector employs about 250,000 people in 11,500 companies [1], with design accounting for 52,500 engineers across 5,200 sites [2]. The UK is also acknowledged as the European leader in independent electronics system design, making up approximately 40 per cent of the market. UK companies lead electronic design in multiple niche market application areas, such as communications (e.g. NFC, Bluetooth, Basestation, cellular and satellite), microprocessor design, video, graphics, audio and many other areas.

The University of Bristol

The University of Bristol is internationally distinguished and is ranked among the leaders in UK higher education. Research-intensive, with an international reputation for quality and innovation, the University has 17,000 students from over 100 countries, together with more than 5,500 staff.

The Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Bristol is amongst the best in the UK in terms of teaching and research, with in-depth specialisation in Electrical Energy Management and Advanced Communications Technologies (Power- and Spectrum-Efficient Wireless Access, Image & Video Signal Processing, Photonics and Quantum Information). All its degree programmes are accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology and meet the educational requirements for Chartered Engineer status. For further information, contact Professor Mark Beach, Head of Department, tel (0117) 954 5190, email

The next University Open Days for prospective undergraduates will take place on 25 June and 22 September 2010.

For undergraduate degree programmes (BEng and MEng) enquiries, contact Professor Ian Craddock, Undergraduate Admissions Tutor, email

The diminishing supply of graduate electronics engineers Despite the UK’s position in the market, it is widely recognised that the industry is finding it difficult to source engineers domestically with the requisite skills and experience for the design sector. There are particular concerns over the supply of graduate engineers, the low level take-up of careers in the sector, and the decrease in students enrolling on electronics degree courses. The ETB report ‘Engineering UK 2007’3 reveals that Electronic and Electrical Engineering degrees saw a 45 per cent decline in UK acceptances of places to 2,824 between 2002 and 2006, and that only one third of recent graduates in this discipline move on to professional engineering careers. More recent UCAS4 data show a continued decline in UK acceptances to 2,689 for 2008. A 2008 report for SWRDA5 also reflects the common concern from industry that the “pipeline of graduate engineers is drying up” particularly in view of the “ageing population” of engineers [6].

References: 1. Electronic System Design: A Guide to UK Capability 2009/10 Edition, BERR/UKTI
2. New Electronics Census 2008
3. Engineering and Technology Board, “Engineering UK 2007”, Research Report, Dec 2007
4. Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
5. Microelectronics Sector Development Framework, Report presented to SWRDA, September 2008
6. UK Electronics Alliance, “Submission to the Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Major Inquiry into Engineering”, March 2008

About NMI The National Microelectronics Institute (NMI) is the premier trade association representing the semiconductor industry in the UK and Ireland.

Its aim is to help build and support a strong micro and nanoelectronics community by acting as a catalyst and facilitator for commercial and technological development.

A not-for-profit organisation funded by its members, the NMI has a membership that spans the supply chain and includes fabless semiconductor manufacturers, IDMs, foundries, design services, IP providers, business associates, research and academic institutions.

The NMI’s work includes:
· Encouraging innovation, communication and collaboration through networking, funding, brokering and sign-posting activities.
· Representing the micro and nanoelectronics sector to government, policy makers and regulators.
· Supporting skills development, education and training.
· Improving operational efficiency through benchmarking and best practice initiatives.
· Providing an industry specific information flow.

The NMI also welcomes collaborations on a national and global basis, to ensure it delivers the very best service to its members and partners.

Please contact Joanne Fryer for further information.
Edit this page