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The importance of inspiring future engineers
Over the years, there has been an increasing awareness of the ageing workforce in engineering, and with 69% of engineers who took part in our Voice of the Workforce research believing there is a skill shortage in their sector, further action needs to be taken to inspire more young people to choose a career in engineering.
Solutions such as encouraging more young people into the industry are spoken about as regularly as the problem of ageing workforce, but with a third (32%) not knowing of any communications about what their company is doing to tackle the skill shortage and two thirds (62%) not knowing of any steps their organisation has taken to address the ageing workforce, more needs to be done.
Children form their impressions of school subjects and career choices at a young age and according to the engineering professionals who took part in our Voice of the Workforce research, the three most important factors to tackling the skills shortage in the future are:
- the promotion of engineering as a career choice to younger generations (e.g. STEM initiatives in schools)
- changing the syllabus in education to make engineering skill sets fit for purpose
With events such as this week’s Big Bang Fair 2017 at Birmingham’s NEC, it is great to see employers and professional bodies in the industry coming together to show young people the exciting STEM careers they can have. The Big Bang Fair is an award-winning combination of exciting theatre shows, interactive workshops and careers information, where STEM professionals from over 200 organisations collaborate to inspire the next generation of engineers and technicians.
Encouragingly, statistics in EngineeringUK’s 2017 State of Engineering report show a positive shift in the level of interest young people are showing in engineering in the UK. In four years, the number of 11-16 years olds who “would consider a career in engineering” has increased from 40% to 51%. It is clear to see the positive effect events such as the Big Bang Fair are having on children, having grown from 6,500 visitors in its primary year in 2009 to over 70,000 in 2016.
With more young people seeing engineering as a positive career choice, what opportunities can they expect to receive?
Grahame Carter, Managing Director of Matchtech comments:
“Engineering is a great choice of career for the younger generations. Over the next decade there are an abundance of exciting long-term opportunities for engineers to be a part of in the UK. In infrastructure alone, projects such as HS2, Hinckley Point and Heathrow are career defining projects and will be creating jobs for years to come. Across the globe in Canada, the National Shipbuilding Strategy has increased the demand for maritime professionals over the next few decades.
Across all aspects of these projects employers are looking for a wealth of skills, from Design Engineers to Project Managers and Inspectors to Production Supervisors and Field Engineers. Children need to be aware of how the work of engineers can positively change the world we live in, whether it is designing more environmentally-friendly transport, enhancing defence capabilities with bigger and faster ships or helping break boundaries in space exploration.”
According to our recent Voice of the Workforce survey, good pay and benefits and interesting and meaningful work are the biggest incentives for people deciding whether to join a new employer. So what kind of salary can young people expect to gain as they take their first steps into engineering? According to The Engineer’s 2016 Salary Survey, Junior Engineers can expect a salary from £25,952 to £32,244.
What other benefits can young people expect from the profession? In today’s skills short market, young people today can progress faster than they would have at a different time; there are more jobs and less people for employers to choose from. Career progression is something which we know millennials (those aged 22-34) are particularly motivated by, the second highest attribute after good pay and benefits contrasting to those who fall under the Boomer category (those aged 50-59) where career progression is less important.
In a skills short industry, we must continue to promote opportunities within engineering and inspire more young people to choose a career in this profession to ensure the industry has the talent it needs for the future. Maintaining the momentum of vital events such as the Big Bang Fair and inspiring children about the opportunities available is a great starting point.