EEF hosts hackathon to get more young people into the industry

Posted on 27 Apr 2018 by Jonny Williamson

The Manufacturers’ Organisation, EEF hosted its first ever hackathon to tackle the problem of how to get more young people into the manufacturing industry.

EEF hosted its first ever hackathon to tackle the problem of how to get more young people into the manufacturing industry – image courtesy of EEF.

The manufacturing and engineering sectors in the UK needs to attract 265,000 new recruits annually by 2024, as reported by EEF.

In response to this, EEF challenged a coalition of its members, experts and young people to find new, creative methods of using technology to trigger a recruitment drive in the field at the hackathon, in Shoreditch, East London.

EEF’s members were out in force with representatives from iconic British firms including Williams F1, Japanese photography giant Fuji Films and prestigious cosmetics brand Estee Lauder, taking part, working with pioneering computing and technology experts, students from the University of Westminster, and a mix of apprentices and 6th form pupils from Harris Academy.

Founder of Mobile UX London, Naveed Ratansi, hosted the hackathon and teamed up with technology expert, reporter and regular on BBC Click, Kate Russell, to provide an informative masterclass for the audience.

This identified key changing technology trends such as the growing use of digital assistance with facial recognition and covered interesting technological breakthroughs over the past five decades.

Attendees were than split into groups of mixed backgrounds and were asked to solve the recruitment crisis. One entry devised an app that easily connects pupils and students with local manufacturing firms, by creating an online profile on their GPS location, interests and grades.

Another set about designing a Facebook Live-style TV show whereby the hosts would challenge STEM-related groups and local youth clubs to record and submit their very own life hacks, with the winner chosen by the public.

The eventual winner of EEF’s hack day clinched the best idea prize by setting out to influence and inspire new generations to challenge the conventional perceptions of engineering. The group produced an augmented reality app that merges engineering to the interests of each pupil.

The team pitched the winning idea in Dragon Den’s style environment to judge’s reporter Kate Russell, Programme Director at University of Westminster Savraj Matharu and EEF’s Chief Strategy & Corporate Development Officer Mark Bernard, while the others teams watched on.

As well as sharing her wealth experience with the participants and mentoring each group, Kate provided her top five tips to help capture the hearts and minds of would-be future engineers, via the use of technology.

These include the following:

BE PROACTIVE: Technology is at the forefront of all manufacturing businesses, so why not invite local schools and Universities in for regular mentoring sessions. Before you know it, you may have a long line of switched-on creative knocking at your door for work experience, an apprenticeship or full-time job.

Be Visible: Harness the skill and enthusiasm of your staff by sending them out as careers ambassadors into local schools and universities. For example, create staff or ambassador-led conversations on Live Streaming platforms like Facebook and Twitch, building an archive of careers advice content for anyone interested.

BE FLEXIBLE: In today’s jobs market it pays to cast your net wider than just academic qualifications. Why not invite potential candidates to a webinar or live stream broadcast where they can discuss in more detail with you what the requirements of the job are and what training you might be able to offer to help them skill up to the role.

BE CREATIVE: If you want to attract creative people, the best way is to be creative. This can take many forms, from creating content like video guides and editorial features to publish on your website or YouTube channel, to outreaching to interest groups and online clubs, via forums and platforms like Facebook and, to even creating a fun, interactive Easter egg hunt on your website

ENGAGE APPRENTICES: The message about apprenticeships being an invaluable career option isn’t getting through to schools, colleges and universities now, and if we can’t do that we can’t get through to young people and their parents.

Therefore, firms need to ensure any the digital content you’re creating about your business is used to approach schools careers departments in a bid to attract the very best apprenticeship talent. Make sure they know an apprenticeship is an option, especially degree level apprenticeships.

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