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16.11.17

DfT pledges ‘a million inspiring experiences’ during 2018 Year of Engineering

The DfT has pledged to work alongside industry partners and MPs to offer young people “a million direct and inspiring experiences of engineering” in an effort to tackle the skills gap.

Coming as part of the 2018 Year of Engineering, the campaign will see large-scale outreach programmes, a children’s book about engineering and behind-the-scenes tours for families.

It will highlight the important role that individuals can have in inspiring children, from parents helping them with maths homework or enrolling them in a coding club, to engineers sharing their experience and advice in schools or via social media.

Hundreds of industry partners – including the likes of Crossrail and Siemens, but also stretching to everything from healthcare and food to energy and culture – will work with the government to try to combat the shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates faced by the UK each year.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling explained the importance of attracting fresh talent to the profession: “Engineering is one of the most productive sectors in our economy, but a lack of young people entering the profession is damaging growth.

“With major investment being made in infrastructure and new technologies that aim to improve the way we travel, work and live, it’s crucial to the nation’s success that more people join the profession.

“This Year of Engineering is our commitment to transforming perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and their teachers. We need people from all backgrounds to see the creativity, opportunity and value of engineering careers.”

This skills shortage will cost the economy an estimated £1.1bn a year by 2024.

It is hoped that by bringing young people face-to-face with engineering role models, the pool of young people who consider the profession will widen, diversifying a workforce that is 91% male and 94% white.

In March 2017, Network Rail set a target of increasing female representation in its 37,000-strong workforce from 16% to 20% by 2020.

Anne Milton, education minister, said: “As minister for skills, I want to see young people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue rewarding careers and jobs in engineering whether they choose an academic or technical route.

“Through the Year of Engineering, we will work with businesses to inspire the next generation of world-class engineers. For our country to thrive and prosper with the highly-skilled individuals that businesses need we must work with employers to tackle the skills gap.

The Year of Engineering will help to address the shortages of engineers that have long held us back as an economy.”

Top image: South Agency

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Comments

Sir Topphamhatt   17/11/2017 at 12:56

Perhaps we should reflect on the root cause of this shortage? I'd suggest that poor pay and conditions in comparison to other employment options, coupled with a long term general dumbing down of education away from Technology and Engineering, would be a place to start. An armful of platitudes from government and a year of 'bread and circuses' ain't going to fix that in a hurry. Toot toot!

Roy   17/11/2017 at 16:03

Coincidentally I also received an article today “Will the Fourth Industrial Revolution be driven by STEAM?” from Engineering and Technology Magazine (IET). Arts are added to the acronym Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics. During the post-war era until the early 1990s high quality Apprenticeships provided by nationalised and large private sector industries developed many of those now in late career or retirement. Technical Colleges and Polytechnics were important partners. As full-time university attendance became more normalised, the vocational element of learning was too often squeezed to the margins e.g. “Stigma against apprenticeships must end, says Network Rail boss” (RTM 11.03.16). Well-intended messages were also promulgated, perhaps trying to counter the so called “oily rag” image of engineering, that academic excellence, in mathematics in particular, was essential to an “engineering” career. Such messages may actually have discouraged many able young people. I’m not sure about “dumbing down” but “inflation” is obvious https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/work/skills/graduate-labour-market-report . I’m also not sure about poor pay and conditions, there are shortages of highly skilled people with a strong work ethic and we have often needed to import people with these essential attributes, rewards are generally above average in these situations. Government can encourage the right behaviours but employers and educators must collaborate better. I agree with the statement “As minister for skills, I want to see young people from all backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue rewarding careers and jobs in engineering whether they choose an academic or technical route”. A higher or degree level apprenticeship can combines both approaches. Many excellent engineers and industry senior leaders, began as apprentices. I also sympathise with the evident cynicism of the previous comments. We certainly don’t need gimmicks and the stigma around apprenticeships was in part caused by “schemes” that would fall well-short of what a skilled Engineer or Technician would expect, but we must start from where we are now and make progress.

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