The Government is to give £585,000 of extra funding to five UK universities in an attempt to combat the chronic shortage of telecommunications engineers.
The cash will go towards teaching staff and extra laboratory testing equipment at Bristol, Bradford, Portsmouth, Surrey and York universities.
It is the second phase of the Department of Trade and Industry’s three-year radio frequency engineers education initiative. Established in 1994, RFEEI aims to produce an extra 150 to 200 radio engineering graduates each year.
Figures are not yet available for this year’s intake, but all the universities have been active in recruiting new undergraduates to the courses, according to Dr Mike Woodley, business development director of Plextek and a member of the steering committee.
`They have all laid on open days so the industrial partners in the scheme could see the projects on offer, and we’ve been impressed by what we saw,’ he said.
Plextek is one of 20 companies investing in the scheme in the hope of solving their recruitment problems. Other participants include BT Cellnet, Hewlett Packard, Motorola and Vodafone.
`There’s a world-wide shortage of RF engineers,’ said Woodley. `This has been an unfashionable thing to study in the past, but the growth in mobile communications has increased demand hugely’.
Companies such as Nokia and Ericsson – also partners in RFEEI – are looking to recruit RF engineers `by the hundred’, Woodley added.