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Campaign launched to address engineering skills gap

The IET today called on MPs to urge employers in their constituencies to work with local schools to inspire more young people to take STEM subjects

“inspire the next generation of engineers”

MPs should play a part in plugging the engineering skills gap by encouraging employers in their constituencies to work with schools to teach young people about the opportunities available, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)

The need for at least 87,000 new engineers each year in the UK means that it is ‘critical’ that this shortage is addressed, the institution said.

According to a survey conducted by the IET, more than half of employers are having difficulties recruiting the staff they need for their businesses to expand.

It is now thought that the UK needs to double the number of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates it produces in order to meet demand – especially considering that a recent report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, found that almost half of STEM graduates take up employment in non-STEM areas.

key words associated with maths and physics were ‘male’, ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant’

The research by the IET also indicated that 59 per cent of companies have concerns that a shortage of engineers could be a threat to their businesses while others suggested that new engineering, IT and technical recruits do not meet expected skill levels.

The IET today invited all of the UK’s 650 MPs to get involved in the campaign in order to “inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Current situation meant there was a need to promote engineering as an appealing career choice to young people. It is encouraging to see from our survey that over half of engineering employers recognise that they have a crucial role to play here – as well as in helping to shape the curriculum so that young people enter the world of work with the skills that employers want. MPs are ideally placed to help us capitalise on this opportunity by helping to involve employers in the education system. – IET Chief Executive, Nigel Fine

The IET called on MPs to urge employers in their constituencies to work with local schools to inspire more young people to become engineers as part of the STEM curriculum and to promote STEM careers with parents.

Recent research has suggested that, science, technology, engineering and maths are often perceived as difficult, which has created a disinterest among school students.

A £30 million fund had been launched for the purpose of increasing the supply of engineers and encourage more women to venture into the sector. A guaranteed supply of skilled engineers is essential if UK engineering is to compete on the world stage. – Skills Minister, Nick Boles

The IET believes the skills shortage facing the industry could be plugged if the outdated perceptions about engineering and STEM subjects were changed.

The perception persists that engineering is part of the old economy – a relic of dirty manual trades like working on the railways. – Rhys Morgan, director of engineering and education at the Royal Academy of Engineering

While a focus group, run earlier in the year by the Department for Education with teenagers in London and Leeds, found that key words associated with maths and physics were ‘male’, ‘boring’ and ‘irrelevant’.

Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/11086529/Campaign-launched-to-address-engineering-skills-gap.html

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