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Press releases 2021

An open letter to the Government to help tackle the UK’s engineering skills shortage

Published: 17/11/2021

Professor Danielle George MBE, Immediate Past President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET)The Engineering Council has today joined forces with over 150 world-leading engineers, scientists and technology giants to urge the Government to urge the Government to help tackle the UK’s engineering skills shortage by embedding engineering into current primary school learning and support #EngineeringKidsFutures.

Professor Danielle George MBE, Immediate Past President of the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and #EngineeringKidsFutures ambassador, has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister signed by the Engineering Council, as well as more than 150 others including Major Tim Peake, Carol Vorderman MBE, will.i.am, and representatives from Rolls Royce, Vodafone and the MOD, to appeal to the Government to work together with educators and industry to develop practical support for teachers of our youngest children and embed engineering in their existing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) learning.

Children eagerly learn about science and maths, but the connection to engineering - the link between these subjects, their purpose and application to the world in which we live - is not currently being made. We need to ensure there are clearer learning outcomes for these subjects linked to engineering.

It’s vital that the Government joins this campaign and commits to securing our future as a nation of innovators. Innovators whose skills will be more crucial than ever in the coming decades as we tackle the global challenges posed by achieving net zero and meeting our COP26 pledges.

Reports from the IET this summer estimate a shortfall of over 173,000 workers in the STEM sector: an average of 10 unfilled roles per business in the UK. What is more, the Institution’s latest Skills Survey identifies that half (49%) of engineering businesses are experiencing difficulties in the skills available to them when trying to recruit.

However, this challenge has not appeared overnight. It is a growing issue that the IET has tracked for the last 15 years – longer than the time it takes for a primary aged-child to complete their education. Future skills need addressing now.

The solution? Simply embed engineering into primary school learning to help bridge the growing skills gap within UK workforces and support #EngineeringKidsFutures.

Professor Danielle George MBE, Immediate Past President, the IET and Engineering Kids’ Futures ambassador, commented of the campaign: “To ‘build back better’ and fully embrace the ‘green industrial revolution’ promised by the government it is essential to start with solid foundations. By adding more focus on misunderstood terms like engineering and technology, where we know there is a perception problem, it will help young people from all backgrounds learn vital engineering and tech skills early on and increase their career aspirations.

“We propose collaboration between the Government, STEM education supporters, academia, and industry to provide teachers with the tools to showcase that science, design & technology and maths have vital elements of engineering within them and proactively encourage the teaching of engineering in our primary schools.

“This focus and support for schools is fundamental if we want to futureproof the next generation of engineers. And these benefits extend far beyond the classroom – from higher earnings to better job satisfaction, our research shows that those in STEM careers can hit life goals such as financial independence much sooner than their peers.”

Together with representatives from world leading institutions – including The Engineering Council, WISE, Engineering Development Trust, and Engineering in Motion amongst others – and STEM pioneers the IET has signed an open letter to government calling for Engineering Kids’ Futures to be formally introduced into schools by the next academic year (in 2022). This letter has also been signed by leaders at many of the UK’s leading engineering and technology employers – including Rolls Royce, Thames Water and EON.

Find out more about the Engineering Kids’ Future campaign and how you can get involved via the IET website.

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