UK needs engineering step-change says IMechE

The UK needs “a step-change in the way we talk about engineering in schools and colleges” if it is to keep pace with energy challenges.

That’s the view of the UK’s Institution of Mechanical Engineers in a new report it has just published.

Peter Finegold, Head of Education and Skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and lead author of the report, said: “We have an engineering skills shortfall at a time where technology looks set to increase its dominance over much of our lives.

“Our schools need to adjust to this reality, both by increasing the number and breadth of young people choosing engineering careers, and by empowering those who do not.”IMechE report on UK engineering skills gap

The report, Big Ideas: the future of engineering in schools, is supported by the Royal Academy of Engineering and calls for a major rethink about the role of schools and colleges in promoting engineering.

It calls for maintaining a broad curriculum until the age of 18 and that the UK should broaden routes into engineering by promoting flexible entry requirements for engineering degree courses.

Finegold said: “Maintaining a broad curriculum until the age of 18 would mean pupils wouldn’t have to make decisions to give up subjects before they really knew what they were. The consensus is that early specialisation routes young people into either arts or sciences too soon, and prevents many from considering engineering study or training before they’ve encountered it.

“It is essential that we also consider a broader range of entry requirements for engineering degree courses, encouraging people with the right aptitude, but who may not fit the traditional archetype. Not only would this boost the number of people who might consider engineering as a career, but also encourage other creatively-minded people into the profession.”

And he added: “We need to stop talking about the skills gap and start taking action. Engineering skills are the linchpin to economic growth, a vibrant jobs market and tackling issues such as population growth and climate change.”

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