Inspiring The Next Generation: How To Get More Young People Into Engineering

Author: Karoline Gore

Half of new engineering recruits in the UK lack the right skills, statistics from the Institution of Engineering and Technology reveal. Additionally, almost 75% of engineering businesses currently experiencing internal skills gaps say insufficient engineering or technical skills are to blame, while 96% also say this skills deficit negatively affects their business in some way. By actively working to inspire the next generation, engineering businesses can successfully attract fresh top talent and address the skills gap.

The value of apprenticeships 

Company-run apprenticeships allow businesses to train budding engineers as young as 16-years-old. During an apprenticeship, young people get paid as they learn and set themselves up for a lifelong career — therefore eliminating the vast amount of debt typically accrued by university students. In addition to developing practical skills, apprentices also gain first-hand insight into the business and how it functions, therefore giving them the opportunity to build and strengthen multiple skill sets inline with business and market growth. In fact, by introducing scientific ideas to children from a young age, the more likely they are to develop the scientific mind and love of science needed for a career in engineering. This can start even before children are of school age — for example, simple activities like playing sports and exploring nature offer ample opportunities for injecting scientific lessons

Partnering with schools 

Working with schools, careers advisors, and parents in the local area is a key way engineering businesses can reach fresh talent. For example, by organising STEM careers events, businesses can effectively promote engineering as a successful and fulfilling career pathway. In fact, since parents and teachers are typically unfamiliar with engineering and may even hold misconceptions about apprenticeships, STEM careers events are an unmissable opportunity to boost industry awareness. Additionally, engineering businesses can also help students prepare their CVs and practise for interviews, therefore further boosting brand and industry awareness, while also building a sustainable pipeline of local talent for apprenticeships. 

Smart recruitment strategies 

By coordinating your recruitment strategies with wider national campaigns, you can tap into talented and diverse yet underrepresented talent pools. In fact, apprenticeships are also valuable as a method of improving social mobility for young people and creating a diverse workforce. In particular, only 11% of the engineering workforce in the UK is female, despite women accounting for more than 50% of the population. International Women In Engineering Day, a global campaign celebrating the achievements of women engineers, is dedicated to helping women see the value of and pursue careers in engineering. So, by launching a recruitment strategy aimed at women during International Women In Engineering Day, you can better show young girls the value they can bring to the industry and that there’s a place for them. 

Engineering represents a promising and varied career path for young people today. By taking steps to inspire the next generation, engineering companies can encourage young people to become part of the industry and solve the skills gap.”