comment on this article

Can Gorillaz’ Noodle help to break the mould?

Readers of New Electronics will be familiar with the continuing expressions of dismay, exhibited by a range of organisations, at the shortage of engineers. Readers will also be familiar with the calls for ‘something to be done’ – whether that’s retraining people from other industries, improving STEM education in schools or refocusing the content of university courses to better suit employers’ needs.

One of the problems with previous attempts to redress the balance was that many proposed solutions were variations on a theme. There is a growing belief that radical solutions will be needed. However, radical solutions in the education sector require Government support – and that’s not going to happen. One reason is the current Government has its focus elsewhere; another is that change takes more than the lifetime of a Parliament.

There is opportunity to change how engineering is taught at the university level. Many universities have been resistant to change, believing their job is to educate students in the fundamentals of technology and that employers can add ‘soft skills’. However, Nottingham Trent University is dipping its toe in the water with the launch of what it calls ‘innovative’ engineering courses. The focus, according to Professor Neil Mansfield, is to give students ‘three to four years of industry experience before they’ve graduated’.

But the University’s approach needs collaboration; if industry isn’t prepared to get involved, the scheme will falter through lack of opportunity for students to get that industrial experience.

There’s also the move to involve more women in engineering. The proportion of women in engineering is currently running at about 10%, but whetting the appetites of young women for a career in engineering requires ‘missionary’ work in schools and boosting the profile of STEM subjects in an already crowded curriculum. It also requires ‘marketing’, so engineering isn’t regarded by women as unattractive.

Interestingly, Jaguar LandRover (JLR) is taking an innovative approach to recruiting engineers using virtual band Gorillaz’s app. While it’s looking to hire 1000 electronic and software engineers, it’s also looking to raise awareness amongst those who might not have thought about engineering as a career – and young women in particular – using JLR’s global ambassador Noodle, the band’s lead guitarist.

Rather than use traditional routes to solving the engineering skills shortage, perhaps it’s time to follow JLR’s lead and break the mould.

Graham Pitcher

Comment on this article

This material is protected by MA Business copyright See Terms and Conditions. One-off usage is permitted but bulk copying is not. For multiple copies contact the sales team.

What you think about this article:

Add your comments


Your comments/feedback may be edited prior to publishing. Not all entries will be published.
Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Related Articles