Driving a new era of collaboration in engineering skills outreach

Joined up action across industry and education is key to meeting tomorrow's engineering skills requirements. A new code of practice, shaped by more than 100 organisations, provides a framework for making this happen, writes Dr Hilary Leevers, CEO of Engineering UK 

As we look towards the future of engineering, it’s clear we need to invest in providing better education, training programmes and job opportunities to make engineering careers accessible for this generation of young people. Part of this includes a significant shift in how employers, schools, government departments and professional engineering institutions engage and collaborate with one another.

Many organisations commit significant amounts of time and money to inspire the next generation in engineering. But we must work better together to improve the quality, inclusivity, targeting and reach of activities for young people – and thus the collective impact of all of our efforts. Changing and improving how we interact and share information across the engineering community is crucial.

The Tomorrow's Engineers code aims to help ensure that STEM outreach efforts are joined up and targeted. Image: Svitlana via stock.adobe.com

These issues were raised at a Year of Engineering roundtable with the idea of creating a code of practice to address them. The resulting Tomorrow’s Engineers Code has now been shaped by more than 100 organisations and individuals, and EngineeringUK is proud to be a founding signatory and to be managing its delivery on behalf of the wider community.

The Code will enable those in education, engagement, government and industry to work together to foster the critical engineering and technology skills needed for the UK to be a leader in innovation and to improve societal and economic resilience and environmental sustainability. The Code is a framework to maximise impact that puts emphasis on:

  • Ensuring programmes contribute to a sustained and rich STEM journey for all young people
  • Ensuring all young people have opportunities to engage in engineering-inspiration activities, so that no one is left behind
  • Promoting a positive, compelling and authentic view of engineering, and showcasing the breadth of opportunities
  • Improving the monitoring and evaluation of programmes and activities to develop a shared understanding of what works

The Code is for any organisation that funds, designs and/or delivers engineering inspiration activities. It will be launched at a virtual event on Thursday 15 October 12:00 – 13:00, and you are invited to come along to find out what The Code is, how it will work and how your organisation can get involved.

In the spirit of better coordination and efficiency, we’re also launching a new digital platform that brings together engineering outreach opportunities and inspiring careers resources, from workshops, speakers and projects to competitions and events as well as virtual and online experiences. Neon aims to make life easier for teachers by curating quality assured engineering inspiration experiences and has been developed with strategic support from the British Science Association, Department for Education, Institution of Civil Engineers, Institution of Engineering and Technology, Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Royal Academy of Engineering, Shell and STEM Learning.

To achieve this, a set of quality criteria have been developed and only those experiences that meet the criteria feature on the site. For example, experiences must include positive and contemporary messaging about engineering and engineering careers, they should be inclusive in design and delivery and deliverers must be committed to embedding learning and improvement.

Young people are well aware of the changing and challenging world around them. At a time when they are unsure about their futures, it is really important that young people can explore their career options, plan ahead, and be motivated to study. It is essential that teachers and schools are well supported to equip their students with careers knowledge and inspiration and ensure that they are prepared for the workplace. We need to commit to work better together to deliver a joined-up approach to drive change at scale, increasing the diversity and number of young people entering engineering careers.

Through The Tomorrow’s Engineers Code, Neon and with the support of all our partners, we hope to provide the resources, environment and dialogue in the engineering community to create a better future for this generation of young people.