Engineering is at a "tipping point" amid warnings of a huge shortfall of graduates in the industry, says a report.
Employment in engineering firms accounts for almost a fifth of jobs following a 2.3% increase in recent years, said EngineeringUK.
The group, which promotes the sector, said moves to boost the number of young people entering the industry had started to pay off, with a big rise in apprenticeships.
But it warned of an annual shortfall of 20,000 graduate engineers.
Chief executive Paul Jackson said: "Engineering is a growth industry that has the potential to continue to drive the UK economy, but the industry is at a tipping point.
"We must consolidate the successes of the past and be alert to the challenges of the future. To do this the Government must continue to recognise the strategic importance of engineering and skills in the Budget."