Is the ‘Year of Engineering’ a gimmick?

Apprentice Dawson Shanahan

Is the ‘Year of Engineering’ a gimmick?

The United Kingdom currently faces a shortage of skilled engineers. In a bid to tackle this, the government has announced a national campaign: the Year of Engineering. The campaign has been created to inspire the next generation by increasing awareness and understanding of what engineers do among young people.

Thanks to funding from the UK Space Agency, a series of education and outreach projects have been designed to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Over the course of 2018, the aim is to change young people’s perspective of engineering, making them more interested in pursuing a career in the industry.

If we’re to truly inspire the next generation, schemes and programmes like this are crucial. The annual National Apprenticeship Week campaign has been running for 11 years now but can’t be the only nationwide activity – especially for only one week of the year. So it’s great the powers that be have introduced the Year of Engineering.

Now, it’s one thing to run these campaigns to attract young people to engineering but providing them with opportunities worth pursing is a different matter. Educators and employers need to demonstrate a clear path; the likes of work experience, apprenticeships and on the job training are all crucial in making engineering more accessible.

We opened the doors to our apprentice training school in 2016, and since then we’ve given a wealth of exciting new opportunities to the next generation of engineers. We currently have eight apprentices and expect to add up to four more this summer, as we are further expanding the successful programme.

From early on, our apprentices are integrated into our team, working on real projects and provided the opportunity to refine their skills. We are extremely proud to be training the next generation; without quality training and opportunities for them, the skills gap will continue to increase in the sector.

Opportunities like this need to be readily available. Our programme has gone from strength to strength each year, with application numbers rising each year – proving that by providing the opportunities, young people will take advantage of them.

With the right attitude, support and implementation, there is no reason every engineering company can’t run a similarly successful programme. We just hope that the campaign inspires them too, not just young people.

Learn more about our own apprentice training scheme here.