The report estimated that around 1.25M science, engineering and technology professionals and technicians are needed by 2020, including a high proportion of engineers, to support the UK’s economic recovery. The combined replacement and expansion demand for science, engineering and technology (SET) occupations will be 830,000 SET professionals and 450,000 SET technicians, but this is to maintain the industry on an even keel rather than to support strong growth, the report stated. Around 80 per cent of these people will be in engineering and technology-related roles.

The report also found that demand for STEM skills will exceed demand in the foreseeable future. Engineers in industries such as energy, water, sanitation, communications and IT systems are already "stretched thin" and the median age of the chartered engineer rises 10 years for every 14 that pass.

"We need an increase in the number of STEM graduates over the next 10 years in support of rebalancing the UK economy," said Sir John Parker GBE FREng, president of the Royal Academy of Engineering. "I am delighted to see that the government is taking on board the message that a proper industrial strategy is essential for effective and sustained economic recovery. Only with such a framework and vision in place can we create ‘the pull’ that defines our future educational and skills needs. We must encourage employers to work with universities with the aim of producing more engineers."

Prof Matthew Harrison, director of engineering and education at the Academy, and author of the report, added: "As rising wages and wide distribution of SET occupations in the economy show, STEM qualifications are portable and valuable. All young people should have access to them as a means of social mobility and to strengthen the economy. Their importance to both individuals and the economy justifies a history of government intervention to address the shortage of people with STEM qualifications."