Why Aren’t We Attracting the Next Generation of Young Engineers?

“It’s dirty”. “It’s not for girls”. “It’s poorly paid”

Can you guess which profession I might be talking about? I’ll give you hint…it’s all around us and the picture above might just give it away. If you’re right, you’ll have guessed that it’s Engineering.

These are just some of the misconceptions people have when the topic of Engineering arises. Without a doubt any evidence of this was absent at the recently organised Big Bang Fair, which was an event described as the biggest celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) for young people in the UK.

After attending the exhibition along with my two young children I can report we were all greatly impressed. The children with the huge variety of activities, and me at the vast number of visitors attending the exhibition.

The media has been flooded with news about the shortage of engineering professionals in recent years, but judging by the number of visitors at the NEC, you wouldn’t have thought so.

The Royal Academy of Engineering suggests we will need more than a million new engineers and technicians by 2020 and hence why events like the Big Bang are brilliant in inspiring young minds of the future. Around 70,000 school children aged 7-18 attended the four day event packed full of hands-on activities designed to inform, educate and entertain. It was great to see parents with their children enthused about what the exhibition had to offer. There were some big names such as Rolls Royce and BAE Systems in attendance.

The activity organised by Rolls Royce was great – a mini aeroplane engine that children had to put together. I’m not embarrassed to say I struggled and actually gave up in the end only to be shown how to do it by my own children!

It’s no secret that the UK needs to not only maintain, but to increase a healthy pipeline of Engineering talent. Not only for the discipline itself but for the benefit of the UK economy. That’s why it’s so important for us all to support events like this.

So what did I take away from the event?

As an Engineer, be proud of what you do and use this to inspire the UK’s future engineers. Let’s encourage our youth to take advantage of the opportunities available to become one of the UK’s future engineers. Let’s work to dispel the belief that Engineering is dirty and not for girls and is poorly paid. If you have or plan to acquire the right skills in Engineering you’ll be assured of a job for life with great career and pay prospects. “Engineering salaries are in the top 30% of UK salaries – a statistic which would surprise a lot of people!”

We don’t want young people to miss out on great jobs and careers because of misconceptions about the industry. Let’s give them the opportunities to find out for themselves what Engineering has to offer!

By Kam Dhinsa

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