Industry takes awareness campaign into schools

A recent study by The Council for Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) found that careers advice for schoolgirls about engineering and manufacturing is not getting the message across about the diversity of careers available in these industries.

This echoes the ECITB’s own research from earlier this year which involved over 500 UK secondary students (age 14-17) and found that 56 per cent got no information about the engineering construction industry from their careers advisor or school.

The absence of sufficient careers information is further illustrated by the fact that there is confusion about what the industry covers, and a lack of awareness amongst young people about an industry that is continuing to create jobs despite the current economic turbulence.

In reality, increased investment in green energy and improvements to reduce the country’s carbon footprint mean that at least 60,000 new skilled workers will be required over the next 10 years to design and build clean, advanced technology, environmental protection and sustainable infrastructure in the UK.

To address this, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) has created an awareness programme that is being delivered directly to young people in schools, showcasing the wide range of careers available and the routes to get to them.

At a time when the UK is crying out for skilled people to help modernise our infrastructure, the ECITB schools roadshow is showing the adults of tomorrow that there is more to engineering construction than meets the eye, making them aware of the right courses to choose and encouraging them to take more science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. The roadshow is backed up with a web-based career progression route map tool, highlighting 200 job roles and how they interconnect.

Both of these initiatives are helping to overcome the perception of an industry that is seen as male dominated, often cited as the principal reason why young women find engineering construction unappealing as a career.

According to the ECITB’s research there are still some young people who think the industry is not creative (21 per cent) and not well paid (19 per cent) and this is preventing them from embracing an engineering career path.

However, those within the industry know this is not the case, and the young people who were attracted to a career in the industry (33 per cent of those surveyed) recognised that it was a highly skilled profession with well-paid, long-term career prospects.

It is important to demonstrate to young people that the old stereotypes simply do not apply. 

The engineering construction industry is diverse and vibrant, offering rewarding, long term career opportunities in some exciting and important sectors. 

For power, oil and gas, nuclear energy, bio-fuels and speciality medicines, engineering construction is often at the cutting edge of technology, including rapidly developing areas such as renewable energy. 

Given the widespread concerns about graduate employment and with the news that university applications are down by around 12 per cent, it has never been more important to ensure the right advice is delivered to better inform important career decisions.

Engineering and science based jobs offer a wealth of opportunities for men and women alike, and improving the careers advice young people receive before they make tough decisions about their education should be a priority for everyone in the industry, in order to deliver the greener, low carbon economy this country needs.

David Edwards

Chief executive

The Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB)