The survey of 2,765 members of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers found 56% supporting the UK staying in the European Union (EU), compared with 27% who say they want the UK to leave and 17% who are undecided.
A similar survey in 2015 found that 72% supported the UK staying in the EU, while 24% said they wanted the UK to leave.
“Whatever the outcome of the referendum in June, Government needs to ensure the result does not damage the UK’s vital engineering and manufacturing sectors,” commented the Institute’s chief executive Stephen Tetlow.
“Government must focus on the key engineering issues likely to be affected by the decision. The most pressing are improving access to markets and people with the right skills, ensuring open access to foreign investment and growth in research funding as well as ensuring the UK is still able to continue to play a leading role in influencing European codes and standards.”
The results of the survey are also said to have reflected the uncertainty created by the referendum.
“The majority (64%) of our professional engineers polled said the uncertainty over the UK’s future in the EU was having a negative effect on UK manufacturing, which could explain recent statistics that show that UK output shrank for the second quarter in a row,” said Stephen Tetlow.
“Almost half (49%) of those surveyed said that leaving the EU would make the UK less attractive as a European base for global manufacturers, while a third (33%) said they were concerned over the potential for trade barriers being imposed if the UK did leave.
The main benefit of continued EU membership was better access to markets according to 46% of respondents, but around 60% said that bureaucracy imposed by the EU was detrimental to UK manufacturing and engineering.