EEF hackathon uses technology to tackle skills shortage

Manufacturers’ Organisation EEF has held its first ever hackathon, challenging participants to use technology to help solve the engineering skills crisis.

Hosted in Shoreditch, East London, the hackathon involved students from the University of Westminster, as well as apprentices and 6th form pupils from Harris Academy. Industry representatives also took part, including Williams F1, Japanese photography giant Fuji Films, and cosmetics brand Estee Lauder.

Attendees were split into groups of mixed backgrounds and asked to find technology solutions to help attract more young people into engineering and manufacturing. One entry devised an app that connects students with local manufacturing firms by creating an online profile with individuals GPS location, interests and grades. Another designed a live-streamed TV show where the hosts would challenge STEM-related groups and local youth clubs to record and submit their very own life hacks, with the winner chosen by the public.

The winning concept was an augmented reality app that merges engineering with the interests of each pupil. All teams were required to pitch their ideas in a Dragon Den’s style environment to a panel of judges made up of BBC technology reporter Kate Russell, programme director at the University of Westminster Savraj Matharu, and EEF’s chief strategy & corporate development officer Mark Bernard.


“There’s no doubting that technology can act as the perfect conduit between manufacturing firms and future potential employees,” said Russell, a regular on the BBC’s Click technology show.

“A number of disruptive brands are reshaping the way we date, order food to even watch TV, and there is no reason why engineering firms can’t emulate these methods. Whether it be a gamified jobs board or a simple regular Facebook Live led by a member of staff, the possibilities are endless, and it’s just a matter of firms adapting a new, modern way of reaching out.”