British Aerospace is to send up to 500 of its younger engineers back to school – to teach local kids about engineering. The move is the biggest attempt by a British engineering company to win the hearts and minds of its future employees.
The project starts this autumn and will involve engineers under the age of 26, drawn from BAe sites all over the UK. It will be obligatory for many as part of their career development plan. One day’s training will be provided.
The project comes on top of another BAe scheme to provide aerodynamics-related curriculum material for schools. BAe engineers will spend three to five days in schools presenting the learning materials.
Andy Lovett, a BAe engineer coordinating the young engineers in school programme, said an enthusiastic approach would be essential but admitted that not all engineers may be cut out for the task. `If someone took part in training and it was felt they were unsuitable, they will not be forced to do it,’ he said.
But Johnny Ball, former comedian and now populariser of science and mathematics, who has been hired by engineering firms to enthuse young people about engineering, warned that the quality of delivery would be the key to the message sinking in.
`Many companies get the wrong kind of people in front of children,’ he said. `The people doing it are often not the high flyers. You won’t get people to become engineers if the engineers they meet give them a boring presentation,’ he said.
Details of the project were revealed alongside the annual congress meeting of the Campaign to Promote Engineering, the industry and government-funded umbrella organisation to back initiatives to promote engineering to the public.
CPE chairman Alex McDiarmid told the congress time was running out for firms to get behind the profession.
`We have only a short window of opportunity to reverse the generally negative perceptions people in the UK have of engineering before crises of major proportions occur,’ he said.