Grow skills by growing involvement

With the ever growing skills need in engineering, Chelsea Ellsworth looks are how involvement in engineering could benefit skills acquisition.

The engineering industry is facing an unprecedented shortage of skilled workers. Employers have been warning for years about this issue within the industry and now it has been announced that the sector needs 1.8 million engineers and technicians to be trained by 2025. 

With less than eight years to go, how can teachers, recruiters like NES Global Talent and employers come together to combat this and encourage people into the industry? 


Encourage children at a young age 

What did you want to be when you were younger? We start forming career ideas from a very young age and if children aren’t interested in studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics while they are in education then this is unlikely to be a career they will even consider let alone aspire to. Teachers need to do more to encourage children to take up these subjects and employers must promote a career in engineering. This needs to be long before they are choosing their subjects for GCSE or A-Level. In fact children of primary school age need to be made aware of opportunities within the engineering sector. 


Increase work experience opportunities 

Likewise, work experience needs to begin earlier. The Government has prioritised work experience for pupils aged 16 to 18 but they have, by this point, already settled on their subjects. This sector needs to offer work experience opportunities and pupils need to be able to take this up earlier to really have an impact.   


Appeal to a more diverse range of people  

Who do you picture working in these roles? Mostly men? That attitude needs to be challenged. While it is an industry dominated by men it is very much open to women too, they just need to be encouraged to be part of it. The number of young women working in engineering has remained under 10% of the total workforce since 2005. 

Steps are already being taken to encourage females to join the industry, but with such a significant shortage of skilled workers, it has never been more important to inspire them.  


Help them understand the career paths available 

Careers in engineering can look drastically different depending on what position you have and what industry you are in. People need to understand how many career paths there are within this industry alone. It may be something they have disregarded because they don’t fully realise the options available to them.


Show that skills are interchangeable

It is never too late for a career change and there are plenty of careers that have interchangeable skills that will move seamlessly into the engineering sector. However, many people become stuck in a rut with their job roles and don’t feel like they can make such a big change to it. It is important to show them that they can. 


Offer more training opportunities 

There needs to be more opportunities for on-the job training for those that have studied and taken a career path vastly different to the one required to work in this sector. That way, no matter their age or experience, it will be easier for them to change careers and quickly get up to scratch without having to go back to education and start from the beginning again. 


Will the UK find the 1.8 million engineers it needs? Only time will tell but the above will provide a decent head start.   

Chelsea Ellsworth is an experienced freelance writer who specialises in engineering both from an educational and work related perspective.