Promising indicators are already being seen regarding the shortage of engineers for the future of British manufacturing.
A BIS-commissioned survey has found that the number of 11-14 year olds thinking about working in engineering has jumped by six per cent.
Significantly, the survey showed a six per cent rise in the number of girls saying they would consider an engineering career, an industry that acknowledges the need to recruit more women. More parents (a rise of four per cent) also said they would encourage their children to become engineers.
However, how these potential future engineers are engaged throughout later schooling is just as, if not more, important to ensure they stay encouraged and optimistic about a career in the UK manufacturing industry and help to shorten the current skills gap.
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The increases followed Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, which ran from November 4 to 8 last year, when government, employers and educators came together to enthuse young people, particularly girls, about the rewarding careers on offer in engineering.
Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills Vince Cable said: “It is encouraging to see that our efforts to highlight the importance of engineering as a career has had a positive affect and that more women and girls are seeing it as an exciting career.
“As a country we excel in hi-tech industries but we need the engineers to maintain our competitive advantage. Government alone cannot solve this. We need to work with industry, universities, colleges and schools to keep momentum and guarantee the pipeline of talent so that businesses are not disadvantaged.”
Chief Executive of EngineeringUK Paul Jackson said: “Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is an example of the positive impact that can be made when organisations work together. The week has proven an effective calendar item for raising awareness of engineering careers and EngineeringUK will be delighted to coordinate it on behalf of the engineering community in 2014.”
Government and industry launched Tomorrow’s Engineers Week following the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills, which focused on the need to shore up the pipeline of skills throughout the whole engineering sector.
Professor John Perkins found the challenges start when pupils are still at school and choose subjects following GCSEs. Engineers must have a strong foundation in maths and science, especially physics but the number of young people choosing these subjects post-16 is relatively low, especially among women. The Government is addressing this problem through a redesign of the curriculum and teacher development.
Further announcements made by BIS to address the current skills gap include:
- £30 million fund for employers to address skills shortages in sectors with specific need;
- £250,000 of seed funding to enable Tomorrow’s Engineers to accelerate the nationwide rollout of its employer engagement programme aimed at encouraging children in school to consider engineering careers;
- £40,000 to support the Daphne Jackson Trust to develop a new fellowship to support people returning to professional engineering jobs after a career break;