Ironman and TV celebrities are helping to glam it up, but engineering still struggles to be seen as anything beyond fixing cars and boilers.
With too few students choosing to study science, technology and maths, at the moment the UK only home-grows about 50 per cent of the qualified engineers needed by industry. And with an estimated two million engineering jobs up for grabs this decade, now is the time to get clued up.
Government initiatives and not-for-profit programmes address the issue of these subjects being taught in our schools and industry needs to play a part
Engineers shape the world we live in by designing, creating, testing and improving almost every product or process you can think of. We need more young people to understand this so they can get excited about engineering careers.
UK primary school teachers on average receive only one full day of practical design technology as part of their training. It is not enough. That’s why we support Primary Engineer, a not-for-profit organisation, addressing this very issue by empowering teachers with the knowledge and tools needed to deliver creative and motivating design technology lessons.
The youngsters love the whole process, completing design and engineering challenges where they are encouraged to think, use their hands, test designs and create solutions. What’s more, they spend time with industry leaders to ask about existing career opportunities and routes into engineering and production.
There is also the government’s UK-wide See Inside Manufacturing initiative which encourages manufacturers to open doors and give students, teachers and career advisors the chance to see what goes on in the world of engineering and offer an insight in to the types of careers available on their doorstep.
Industry needs to commit more resource to working with schools, getting behind these schemes and developing their own apprenticeship programmes if we are to attract more young people into engineering and production careers. If not, we’ll be playing catch up in the technological race that fuels the global economy today.
• Paul Nelson is managing director of Allied Vehicles