Electronics companies have a responsibility to enthuse the next generation

1 min read

EngineeringUK's latest report – Engineering UK 2014 – paints a similar picture to its previous publications. There are, it concludes, not enough engineers of all types and not enough people wanting to be engineers. This, the organisation says, is jeopardising the UK's economic future.

Another year, another similar report, more calls for action. So how do we get children to 'sign up' for a career in engineering? Amongst EngineeringUK's latest suggestions is the provision of careers inspiration for all 11 to 14 year olds. 'Careers inspiration' is an interesting term. EngineeringUK says it 'should include opportunities to meet technical leaders from across a range of scientific, technological, engineering and business sectors and experience of the workplace'. The 'inspiration' should also highlight the value of STEM skills. All very laudable, but how would such an ambition be achieved within today's educational framework? The curriculum is already a very crowded place and it's likely the 'inspiration' will have to take place outside of regular school hours. School students will be attracted towards career in engineering if they believe jobs are available, with good prospects, financial rewards and acceptable working conditions. But they also need to be interested in engineering. And that's where EngineeringUK calls for another effort: providing teachers and careers advisors with a raft of information that will help students to determine the way forward. This, it says, should be backed up with 'consistent face to face careers information advice and guidance'. Or is there another way? Already, some companies have decided to get on with it themselves and not wait for some 'top down solution' to be imposed. An example is Premier EDA Solutions – a good friend of New Electronics – which works with a couple of local schools to raise the profile of the electronics industry. There's no reason why its approach can't be replicated across the country. Asking schools to inspire students is one thing, but it's only part of the solution. It's apparent the engineering sector itself needs a radical makeover.