MPs to pledge to get more engineering employers involved in local schools

MPs will today pledge their support to help fix the engineering skills shortage by encouraging employers in their constituencies to work with schools to give young people work experience opportunities and inspirational information about the many exciting careers in engineering and technology.

All 650 MPs have been invited to the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s (IET) parliamentary reception to inspire the next generation of engineers. They will be asked to urge employers in their constituencies to work proactively with local schools and colleges to inspire more young people to become engineers as part of the wider STEM curriculum.  The pledge also calls for MPs to encourage girls and boys to consider STEM careers, promote the value of vocational STEM subjects and promote STEM careers with parents.

The motivation for the pledge comes in response to findings from the IET’s 2014 Engineering and Technology Skills and Demand in Industry survey, which indicate that 53 per cent of employers believe they should get more involved with schools, colleges and universities to help change the perception of engineering among young people.

IET Chief Executive, Nigel Fine, explains: “Demand for engineers in the UK remains high. We need 87,000 new engineers each year for the next decade, so there is a critical need to do more to promote engineering as an appealing career choice to young people.

“It is encouraging to see from our survey that over half of engineering employers recognise that they have a crucial role to play here – as well as in helping to shape the curriculum so that young people enter the world of work with the skills that employers want.

“MPs are ideally placed to help us capitalise on this opportunity by helping to get more employers involved with the education system at a local level so that we produce a talent pipeline that can sustain a thriving UK economy.”

The IET’s survey also highlights consistently high demand for engineers but that other findings from the IET’s Skills and Demand in Industry survey show that:

  • More than half of employers are having difficulties recruiting the staff they need for their businesses to expand.
  • Just six per cent of engineers are female
  • 59 per cent of companies indicated concerns that a shortage of engineers would be a threat to their businesses
  • 44 per cent of engineering, IT and technical recruits do not meet the employer’s expected levels of skills

Skills Minister, Nick Boles, said: “A guaranteed supply of skilled engineers is essential if UK engineering is to compete on the world stage. We are committed to developing the engineering workforce of the future and, through the Your Life Campaign, have joined forces with the industry, academia and institutions to inspire young people to study maths and physics.

“In order to unlock its potential, the engineering sector needs to draw on as wide a talent pool as possible. That's why we've launched a £30 million fund to increase the supply of engineers, to encourage more women into the sector and to address engineering skills shortages in smaller companies.”

MPs will also have the opportunity to programme and control a LEGO® robot and will be helped by would-be engineers and winners of the IET’s First Lego League competition. Competitions like the FIRST®LEGO® League inspire young people to study Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects – helping to address the skills challenge highlighted by the IET’s Skills and Demand in Industry survey.

Notes to editors:

  • Interview opportunities are available with IET spokespeople from a broad range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and women in engineering.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.

Media enquiries to:
Robert Beahan, External Communications Manager
T: +44 (0)1438 767336
M: +44 (0)7595 400912