British engineers should be loud and proud

Posted on 13 Oct 2015 by Victoria Fitzgerald

Semta chief, Ann Watson is urging British engineers to start singing their own praises to optimise opportunities.

Addressing the Society of Operational Engineers, the CEO of Semta commented: “As an engineering community we need to stop hiding our lights under bushels, start blowing our own trumpets and herald what a fantastic career engineering can be.”

Bloodhound SSC is presented in record attempt configuration, with its 2m-high tail fin in place for the first time.
Bloodhound SSC, presented in record attempt configuration, with its 2m-high tail fin in place for the first time.

Praising the innovative 1,000mph BLOODHOUND Supersonic Car, preparing to break the land speed record, she said that the project epitomises the brilliance of British engineering – which should be shouted about.

“This is British engineering at its peak, leading the World and pushing back the boundaries of what is achievable by man and his machines. Without people with the right skills, however, this project would never have come to fruition.”

Engineering needs a resurgence the length and breadth of Britain – from Scotland to Cornwall, she said  – but warned that the looming skills crisis could cost the country £27bn per annum.

“We need an extra 800,000 additional science, engineering and technology technicians to avert a crisis.”

She asserted that young people needed to know what wonders await in a career in engineering – and mourned the loss of STEM graduates choosing careers outside the sector.

Ann Watson, chief executive, Semta.
Ann Watson, chief executive, Semta.

“The problem we have is that too many are choosing to apply their skills outside of STEM sectors. More than 12,000 engineering graduates are working in financial services, for example – that’s undoubtedly good news for financial services!”

Watson said that inadequate careers advice is part of the problem: “Only 10% of educators feel confident in speaking about an apprenticeship. Too many teachers have never set foot in a modern engineering workplace.”

She told the society that hundreds of engineering firms were signing up to Semta’s STEM Exchange to offer opportunities for educators to be educated about the world of work in the sector.