Looking for the new careers captains

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Volunteers have a central role in the inspiration of the next generation of engineers and securing a strong future for our industry

Away from slogans on skills, education and business need to work together to ensure those entering the workforce have not only the technical knowledge required but also skills such as communication, leadership and problem-solving.

Late last year at a parliamentary round table on graduate skills linked to the launch of the Universities UK report Supply and demand for high-level skills we discussed this issue and the continued shortages of highly-qualified workers in technical industries. That research showed that a lack of ‘core and employability skills’ saw many graduates in non-graduate level jobs meaning they are not fulfilling their potential and employers may be missing out on their technical skills and knowledge.

“With 27 per cent of our students in higher education taking coursers related to STEM, we need to include engineering in our careers messages.”

Engineering needs more qualified workers at a range of levels and the inclusion of a recommendation to address problems in the STEM talent pipeline is a welcome one. The more education, industry and Government can work together to solve the problem the closer we will get to meeting employer demand.

Fewer graduates from non-engineering courses are entering the industry. With as many as 27% of students currently in higher education taking courses related to STEM, we need to do more to include engineering in the broader careers messaging to those students. And of course, those graduates need to be more ‘work-ready’. Universities and industry can work together to support students by facilitating work placements, work experience, internships and volunteering opportunities.

Individual engineers are also needed to get more young people excited about what the industry has to offer. Could you be a careers captain at The Big Bang Fair or be an advocate for the profession by sharing your story at a local school? Could you help students building and programming robots or judge a robotics challenge? Or could you help steer our overall direction?

As our Chair Dr Paul Golby CBE completes his term later this year we are looking to appoint a new Chair to work with fellow Board members, stakeholders and me to provide strong governance and strategic direction for the organisation. This voluntary role is ideal for a high-profile leader with the credibility and contacts to promote the vital importance of engineering, acting as a catalyst for real change.

Could you help students to build and program robots?
Could you help students to build and program robots?

The Chair of the Board needs the determination, energy and enthusiasm to drive change in public perceptions and to attract more young people into engineering and technology. In fact, that also sums up what we look for in the engineers who support our work with young people.

Volunteers are key to making The Big Bang Fair an informative and rewarding experience for the tens of thousands of visitors to the NEC each March. They also play a strong role in Tomorrow’s Engineers activities by communicating real-world examples of engineering. We need ambassadors to bring to life the possible engineering and STEM career opportunities available to young people. Could you do that? Could your team?

If you have started the new year determined to make a positive contribution or to give something back to your community, join us to inspire the next generation of engineers. In return for your time and enthusiasm, we can offer you a hugely rewarding role helping to transform young lives and secure a strong future for our industry.

Paul Jackson
Chief executive, EngineeringUK