Wednesday 17 December could prove a pivotal day in how the UK tackles the acute shortage of young people opting for engineering as a career path, according to Tony Moloney, National Grid’s Head of Education & Skills.
Engineer your future
"Inspiring the next generation of engineers is vital if the sector is to grow and compete internationally."
Vince Cable, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills.
By 2020 UK industry will need 1.86 million new engineers. At the moment, we are set to deliver only 30 to 40 per cent of that number.
Source: Engineering UK: the state of engineering 2013
The date marks the official opening of the three-year interactive Engineer Your Future exhibition at the Science Museum in London – something that should hopefully result in hundreds of thousands of youngsters being inspired to think like engineers and have their preconceptions about industry challenged.
National Grid has committed to being one of its principal sponsors because, along with others, we recognise that we have to do something practical about opening children’s eyes to the possibility of becoming one of the engineers that this country so badly needs.
About the exhibition
Engineer Your Future, which will be located in the Science Museum’s contemporary science wing, will put young people’s problem-solving skills to the test by exploring engineering challenges through large-scale, high-quality interactive games and digital experiences. Our Chief Executive Officer, Steve Holliday, and Ian Blatchford, Director and Chief Executive of the Science Museum Group, have led the development of the exhibition from its inception.
We’re hoping that up to three million visitors each year – mainly of school age – will discover some of the fascinating stories of women and men who work in engineering today. Striking digital exhibits and an accompanying audio / visuals will illustrate cutting-edge technology and explore how engineers design, improve and test their ideas.
The exhibition’s approach draws on recent research from the Royal Academy of Engineering into how engineers think, and gives visitors the chance to see, experience and develop engineering skills for themselves.
Engineer Your Future contains a clever mix of fun and inspiration. Those coming along can test their creative problem-solving skills through an interactive multi-player game, compete to design a vehicle from a limited set of resources and travel across an alien landscape.
They will also navigate complex systems, ‘manage’ the flow of electricity through our transmission system, drive a train through a railway network or handle luggage with an airport baggage-handling system.
An interactive, futuristic cityscape can also be explored, where you can discover more than 30 real people working across engineering, from energy generation and transport to health and creating visual effects for film.
We confidently expect that visitors will leave the exhibition surprised by the breadth of engineering careers, excited about the fascinating work engineers do and, most importantly, with an awareness of engineering as a career that they would like to pursue.
Bright young minds
Engineering is all about designing and building our future. We need to capture the imagination and attention of inquisitive bright young minds and show them that they can play a part in shaping the world.
This is a serious undertaking. In the next eight years we need around 1.8m engineers and tradespeople to enter the profession – or around 120,000 new entrants each year. We currently only have around 21,000 people studying engineering degrees and we need to nearly double the number of apprentices and technicians qualifying in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) disciplines.
If we don’t, we’ll face a huge skills gap and generations of young people will find themselves without the right qualifications to do the jobs that are on offer. We hope our collective efforts will inspire thousands of young people into engineering, benefitting them, their communities and our economy.
So where does Engineer Your Future fit in?
We think it will help us to change perceptions of our industry – exploding stereotypes and convincing young minds that they can deliver solutions that this country needs.
We also want to be part of the solution for a better society and shift the perception of engineering as a menial boys-only world to one closer to reality, one full of exciting and challenging careers, where girls are equally welcome and encouraged to become engineers.
And we know that, by joining up and working together, our industry can better understand the challenges facing society; combining ideas to ignite and energise young minds.
What’s more, the exhibition has wide support from politicians as well as from industry. For example, Business Secretary Vince Cable has said:
“Inspiring the next generation of engineers is vital if the sector is to grow and compete internationally which is why a long-term commitment to world-class skills is at the heart of our industrial strategy.”
By supporting initiatives such as Engineer Your Future, we want to join others in inspiring young people to become a vital part of our nation’s future.
To find out more
The exhibition forms part of the Science Museum’s pledge to support the Your Life campaign, which aims to boost the number of young people studying physics and mathematics.
Engineer Your Future has been supported by ABB, BT, EDF Energy, IBM, Mott MacDonald, National Grid, Network Rail and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, with additional support from the Royal Academy of Engineering.
You can follow the conversation online using #EngineerYourFuture.