In praise of 'Tomorrow's engineers'

Paul Jackson, Engineering UK chief executive highlights the success on an initiative to engage with schools

I was struck last week by an article about a recent Big Bang event hosted at a school in Leicester. The write-up was pretty much what you would expect – details of the activities enjoyed by visitors and of the supporters present - what set it apart was that it was published on the Leicester Police website.

For me, that really demonstrates how Tomorrow’s Engineers is doing something very different. Not just telling people how good engineering is but empowering communities to be part of that story. That’s communities in education through Big Bang @ School and communities of local employers supporting schools in their area. In publishing the article Leicester Police displayed the sense of involvement we see from the many employers who are part of Tomorrow’s Engineers.

In the past year Tomorrow’s Engineers has directly reached over 300,000 young people. Many of these quality engagements are the result of targeted outreach by engineering employers. Others take place at regional events or as part of a funded programme of targeted intervention. 

The Tomorrow’s Engineers programme is led by the engineering community and it is that collective ownership and collaborative spirit that makes it unique.  Tomorrow’s Engineers doesn’t offer a single off-the-shelf package, it doesn’t dictate how individual employers or schools should get young people engaged and it doesn’t work on the premise that one size fits all. Tomorrow’s Engineers provides a platform for employers to grow the talent pipeline as part of a coordinated drive.

Tomorrow’s Engineers works centrally with national employers and has dedicated support available in the North East, North West, West Midlands, London, South East and South West. With funding from the Careers and Enterprise Fund that support will be enhanced in the North West and South East and will expand into Yorkshire and The Humber.

Employer Support Managers - local advisors - can work with employers to help make their outreach more inclusive, more impactful and more tailored to local requirements. Tomorrow’s Engineers shares good practice, encourages peer to peer advice and guidance and respects the distinct needs and approaches of its companies, institutions and schools.

This growing community of employers is working to realise the ambition of reaching 1 million young people a year with a memorable experience of engineering in action. Mapping that work highlights hot spots, areas and schools that are engaged and active in STEM promotion. Tomorrow’s Engineers is able to identify and target schools in cold spots where engineering outreach can have the greatest impact. 

Student feedback is one part of measuring that impact. A student who took part in an Energy Quest workshop last month said: “Now I think that any idea could be a reality with engineering”. That change in attitude is an important first step. Tomorrow’s Engineers Energy Quest and Tomorrow’s Engineers Around the World are industry-funded programmes that directly target schools with hands-on workshops and strong careers messaging, delivered by trusted partners across the UK: EDT, EESW, Learn by design, SCDI, science made simple, Sentinus, Smallpeice and Young Engineers.

Tomorrow’s Engineers brings a strategic approach to schools engagement, building links with industry and schools. This results in greater coordination so employer outreach extends to where the need and potential impact are greatest. If, like me, you want to inspire the next generation, join the Tomorrow’s Engineers to really make a difference.