My last post about the need to attract and support young people into engineering seems to have hit an important artery for many readers. This I am very glad about of course because it is an area I am most passionate about and indeed concerned due to the nature of my business.
My business (for those who don’t know) is primarily business support services to engineering clients in the compressed air industry. I have been a Headhunter and development director for more than 15 years and had the fortune of working for a wonderful list of manufacturers and distributors of high quality engineered product. Predominantly I service them on the personnel development elements of their business, not only talent acquisition but also working with their current incumbents, processes and systems to glean efficiencies and growth. Education has therefore been an intrinsic ingredient to my understanding. In addition I created a large academy for 16-24 year old students (The Co-operative British Youth Film Academy) to gain hands on experience and career development structures within the movie industry through producing feature length films (this has always been my hobby / 2nd passion so I twinned my day job with my hobby to facilitate its creation).
Engineering is however closer to my core as I recognise the importance to the economy of ‘making things’. Manufacturing is the major part of economic growth as we have seen over the centuries. Britain was one of, if not the, pre-eminent societies in design and manufacture throughout the industrial revolution. Sadly (in my opinion) we have moved our focus onto tertiary sector (service) industry and finance. British Government recognises the need for high-tech and education to drive us out of recession and also recognises the private sector is central to this.
The complexities of any economic infrastructure are far too deep to even touch on within a blog such as this but I believe that if people are thinking about certain pointers, the deeper investigation will be undertaken by the individual and change will occur. I encourage people to think hard about their personal skills and knowledge, their mathematical capabilities and particularly the encouragement of youngsters to keep studying maths and sciences beyond GCSE.
The following statistics give an idea as to why young people don’t look properly at engineering and instead wish to chase the dragon in media or other sectors (one of my main focuses for the BYFA was to educate people that the movie business is exclusive, hard to enter and actually not that glamorous on a day to day basis – wonderful as it can be, you have to have drive, commitment and purpose to stand a chance – the BYFA learning curve hopefully takes away peoples rose-tinted spectacles and makes them think about the career they should follow - one where there was true job and earning potential).
- 55.4% of graduates say poor pay is the reason for not following a career in engineering
- 14.5% said there were too few career prospects
- 13.5% said it was boring compared to other careers
- 16.6% said engineering degrees (often 4yrs as opposed to 3yrs) are longer and more costly
I think they are rather startling statistics and rather concerning. Students are not recognising the importance of science and technology and are probably speaking from an ill-advised and uneducated stance. If they explored further and actually experienced the variety of careers and earning potential, most would be surprised.
A recent report by the Lords Science & Technology Committee states:
“In reality the quality of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) graduates coming out of Universities does not meet the requirements of industry and in fact is ultimately not even likely to meet the requirements of academia.”
The report says that, without action, the government risks failing to meet its objective of driving economic growth through education and hi-tech industries.
It is vital that parents and education really address the importance of study in engineering (and to be frank it starts with higher level maths and sciences), or the British economy will be unable to create sustainable growth.
Again, I urge parents to sit down round the dinner table and discuss such career options and then use your time to explore the Internet and go and see some of the industrial and technological wonders of the world.
Enjoy and explore!…. even more on this shortly….