Academics have hit back at the idea that engineering graduates are only being trained to pass exams.
A new report that highlights the difficulties faced by manufacturers in recruiting skilled workers, quotes one business leader as saying: ‘Engineering graduates have been taught to pass exams. Academia is letting the country down and we have to teach our recruits the ways of the world before teaching them about the business.’
But the Engineering Professors’ Council (EPC), which represents UK university engineering departments, said it was puzzled by the quote and was concerned it had let to the report being mispresented.
‘The facts simply don’t bear out the assertion,’ said a spokesperson for the EPC in a statement sent to The Engineer . ‘An engineering graduate is around 20% more likely to have found a full time job within 6 months of graduation than graduates of other disciplines, on average.
‘It is well recognised that the UK HE system, and engineering in particular, is one of the best in the world, as testified by the large numbers of international students who choose to study here.’
The EPC added: ‘The vast majority of our courses receive professional accreditation, and hence the required degree outcomes and what a graduate is expected to know and be able to do is largely defined by the engineering profession, which includes industry.’
The report, An insight into modern manufacturing , said recurring concern over the quality and quantity of skilled technicians and graduates and the output of the UK education system was the most important message to send to government and academia.
It also quoted one manufacturer who said: ‘There are a lot of misconceptions about manufacturing among young people: that it is badly paid, has high redundancy rates and is dirty, physically demanding work.’
The EPC said virtually all university engineering departments had industrial advisory panels to provide guidance on curriculum content.
‘Far from letting down our industrial partners, university engineering departments have recognised some of the issues arising from changes in the pre-university education system and have been working hard to find ways to address them.
‘If it is felt that the situation is not improving, we throw down the gauntlet to our industrial colleagues to help us further in our mission.’
The report was produced by a group of the major engineering institutions under the name “Engineering the Future” based on interviews with 22 UK-based manufacturers.