14-17 September 2021, Excel London                       

Defence Engineering Skills Conference

Defence Engineering Skills Conference

Defence Engineering Skills Conference

The Conference

DESC took place on Thursday 12 September. Set against the backdrop of the UK engineering skills challenge, the conference provided a unique opportunity to gather those with an interest in engineering education and industry together to explore the challenges faced by the Defence sector.

The themes focused on building resilience through greater understanding, collaboration and cohesion across the enterprise (Armed Forces; Civil Service; Industry); the Professional Institutions and Academia.

The conference aimed to:

  • Set the whole force context for the national engineering skills challenge.
  • Share good practice across the defence engineering enterprise; therefore, ‘Whole Force’ by design.
  • Inform the current direction of travel in respect of the defence approach to tackling the skills challenge.
  • Inform and shape the evidence based approach for defence skills – Launch of Skills Survey Mk2 - Oct 19.
  • Support the Defence Professionalization Strategy (specific objective in the strategy, “to promote and support the holistic engagement between Defence, professional engineering institutions and society”).


View the Agenda


 “Only through a clarity of purpose, coherence of approach and closer collaborative effort can we in the Defence Sector build sufficient resilience to address the current national engineering skills shortfall. This a whole-force and through-life matter, and we must act to attract, recruit and retain the talent we need in a competitive environment.  Against this backdrop, this conference seeks to stimulate debate and promote a joined-up approach to manage engineering skills across the Defence Sector, spanning the Ministry of Defence, Industry, Professional Institutions and Academia.”

Air Marshal Julian Young RAF, Defence Engineering Champion


Conference Overview

Conference Overview

This conference is whole force in its design and begins with the evidence for action, before exploring the initiatives underway both within the Services and through industrial collaboration. These initiatives transcend key elements within the employment life cycle from youth engagement and careers attractiveness, through to re-skilling the existing workforce. It concludes with an examination of the challenges faced in being ‘skills ready’ as tomorrow’s capability requirement transitions to today’s reality in a digital age.

What to Expect

What to Expect

Participants included engineer employers from across the defence enterprise, including armed forces, civil service and industry. Professional engineering institutions and defence-partnered academic institutions were also represented.

Speakers addressed the challenges of attracting graduates into a defence engineering career, including methods of retention and professional development. There was also a focus session on lateral entry and the shift of skill requirements in the digital age.

General Information

General Information

The Defence Engineering Skills Conference took place at ExCeL London on Thursday 12 September.

Registration 0800 - 0915

Conference 0915 - 1420


  • DSEI showcases the best of British defence technology and innovation on the world stage. The UK Government looks forward to engaging with strategic partners, international delegations and pioneering defence companies on the global defence and security agenda.
    Anne-Marie Trevelyan MP, Minister for Defence Procurement
    UK MOD
  • I very much look forward to continuing my personal support to DSEI. It provides an excellent opportunity to explore the development of airpower capability, through engagement with the widest range of industry and international partners.
    Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier KCB CBE DFC MA RAF Chief of the Air Staff
    Royal Air Force
  • I much look forward to DSEI. We intend to build on the very positive experience as we construct the partnerships we need to deal with the complexity of the future operating environment
    General Sir Nicholas Carter KCB CBE DSO ADC Gen Chief of the Defence Staff
    Ministry of Defence
  • Once again the Royal Navy is proud to be at the vanguard of DSEI 2019 and I look forward to what I know will be a hugely beneficial opportunity for us all to explore maritime warfare development with so many partners from industry and academia, and with our counterparts from overseas.
    Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, The First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
    Royal Navy
  • DSEI is a highlight within the defence calendar, I use it to find out what the most recent developments are in every technological area affecting for defence. Without DSEI I fear this sort of interaction, information exchange and knowledge of developments across all domains would be lost. DSEI is an invaluable international biannual event .
    Rt Hon Dr Julian Lewis MP, Chairman, House of Commons Defence Select Committee
    UK Parliament
  • DSEI is a fantastic showcase for defence companies where international buyers, sellers, developers, thinkers, educators and the trainers can all get together. The UK defence industry is looking to recruit more engineers, scientists and developers into 200,000 jobs and up to 10,000 apprentices within UK defence companies. DSEI is an excellent tool to highlight the challenges the industry face as well as showcase its capabilities domestically and overseas.
    James Gray MP, House of Commons Defence Committee
    UK Parliament

Platinum Partners


  • General Dynamics

  • BAE Systems

International Partner


  • UAE Pavillion




Supported By

No content

  • Ministry of Defence

  • Department for International Trade