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Bring back engineering Britain!

Posted by: Tom Webb-Skinner 12 Jul 13 - 11:00AM  | Recruitment

In the first of a series of articles looking at restoring Britain as an engineering powerhouse, Jonathan Lee Recruitment looks at how private sector industry can take steps to help both itself and the nation’s economy.

The Government today announced a one £bn investment programme aimed at supporting research, innovation and apprenticeships to help secure growth and investment of the vehicle and component manufacturing sector. The funding will in part come from the UK motor industry, demonstrating how private sector investment in education could help to drive growth and ensure a long term future for UK engineering.

In 2012, a Royal Academy of Engineering report indicated that an additional 100,000 STEM subject graduates a year were needed just to maintain the current status quo for UK industry. Meanwhile industry leaders have bemoaned falling educational standards, while Government austerity measures impact school and university funding. As a result Britain continues to slip down international innovation leagues (now 8th globally in the number of US patents registered).

“The ongoing economic difficulties prove that the UK’s heavy over reliance on the service sector needs to be addressed,” says Jonathan Lee Recruitments Operations Manager Mike Rowles. “Other countries have fostered new generations of university graduates, but in the UK only 9.1% of graduates in 2009 took engineering related subjects compared to the EU average of 12.9%. There is recognition within industry that high added-value technology, engineering and manufacturing will be vital for economic growth, but to build a sustainable future for sector there must be a long term commitment to developing new generations of engineers.”

Research from Engineering UK has shown that 49% of 7-11 year-olds believe that being an engineer would be 'boring' and that they would prefer more immediately visible careers as teachers, footballers and doctors. High-profile projects like Bloodhound have addressed this notion by presenting the challenges of their land speed record attempt to school children around the country, thereby demonstrating the valuable role that private industry can play in providing role model encouragement through schools engagement work.

Investment in secondary education scholarships can be used to facilitate STEM subject uptake, while apprenticeships and graduate opportunities help to demonstrate strong employment prospects and development opportunities for people considering degree choices. Both options are financially viable; scholarships are tax deductable as charitable donations and apprenticeships are largely government sponsored. Furthermore, in-house training and apprenticeships allow companies to hand-pick the most talented individuals according to their own requirements and develop those skills further through in-house training.

“Since 1993 Britain has invested a smaller percentage of its GDP on R&D and adaptation than many of its OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) competitors, including Denmark, Canada, Iceland and Israel,” says Mike. “Reduced STEM subject graduations and a diminishing pool of future engineering talent threaten innovation and will leave businesses struggling to recruit engineers to drive sustainable business growth. A long term strategy of investing in talent and innovation will strengthen a company’s future and in turn help the economy.”

Watch this space for information on how we at Jonathan Lee Recruitment are helping to drive engineering education and support the industry’s future.

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