Universities and industry working together to address the skills gap in engineering13 November 2015

Growing demand for integrated solutions Growing demand for integrated solutions

Some 53% of employers find that a typical new engineering recruit does not meet their reasonable expectations according to the Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry report published by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

The IET has launched a news-style programme in partnership with ITN Productions entitled Engineering our World which examines the need for universities and companies to work collaboratively in order to secure the next generation of engineers. The programme was launched at the IET President's Address on November 11.

Engineering our World is an in-depth online programme aiming to provide a greater understanding of the role engineering plays in our everyday lives and explores the challenge for organisations in the industry to find and develop the best talent. With a major skills gap and a growing demand for integrated solutions, the programme asks where are the next generation of engineers coming from and what are organisations doing to attract young people and women into engineering?

Introduced by national newsreader Natasha Kaplinsky, Engineering our World features key industry interviews and news-style reports along with sponsored editorial profiles of some of the leading organisations.

Universities such as Queen's University Belfast and the University of Staffordshire highlight the need to produce a different type of graduate for today's competitive landscape and talk about their engineering programmes established in response to their working with industrial collaborators and partners. The University of Edinburgh also emphasises that bringing on the next generation of engineers to deliver quality research is fundamental to sustain innovation and maintain the UK as a leader in the sector.

However, securing the next generation of talent does not stop with universities. As National Grid CEO, Steve Holliday, says: "We need to break the stereotype of what engineering is all about. I think we've got to do that very early with children, and help educate parents and teachers as well (…) The only way to do this is for business to step up and do more." Companies such as Ansaldo Nes, National Grid, Thales, or Siemens showcased their apprenticeship schemes and mentorship programme initiatives to address recruitment and retention. Indeed, the IET's survey findings reveal that 64% of employers say that a shortage of engineers in the UK is a threat to their business.

Both universities and companies agree that they need to spread a message of pride and better champion career opportunities in the sector to get students enthused, particularly women. "Engineering our World" addresses challenges and issues, but also focuses upon the latest advances and innovations, to celebrate the exciting and varied opportunities in engineering.

Mark Venables

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