What do young people really want? Mark Vernon, a 28-year-old engineering trainee based in National Grid’s marketing operations at Wokingham, explains why early engagement with young people is one way to bridge the skills divide.
Leaving it too late?
“We leave it too late to educate young people. It’s much harder to wow a 20-year old than a 10-year old.”
Mark Vernon, National Grid engineering trainee
People undertaking Higher Apprenticeships could earn around £150,000 more over their lifetime, compared to earnings for the average graduate (all graduates, not just STEM).
Source: Centre for Economics and Business Research
“Getting into engineering was a bit easier for me. My father had his own engineering business so I was always aware that it wasn’t just a blue-collar job. After studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at university, I started a graduate placement in a large engineering firm, but didn’t get much support while I was there. It wasn’t until a couple of more senior engineers took me under their wings that I really started to enjoy it.
“To get the right skills you need the right culture, one based on proactive coaching. That’s the kind of support you get at National Grid. I’m glad I left my old employer to pursue the engineering training programme here, because people take ownership of your development and are happy to share their knowledge and experience.
“How would I convince young people who haven’t grown up in an engineering family to pursue a career in the profession? I’d start by telling them just how spectacular it can be. From working hands-on with a 400kV transformer to sitting in a control room that runs the country’s entire electricity network, the variety is amazing.
“But we leave it too late to educate young people. It’s much harder to wow a 20-year old than a 10-year old, so we need to target kids when they’re younger and show them the kind of opportunities available. That’s when you’ll see a shift in culture. If you convince one, they’ll convince others, and they’ll pass their enthusiasm on to future generations.”