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The Year of Engineering | 2018

Rebekah Valero-Lee thought leadership

year of engineering

In late 2017, the UK government announced that 2018 would be the Year of Engineering, forming part of a national campaign to increase awareness and understanding of engineering among young people, their parents and their teachers.

Monday 15th January marks the start of activity which aims to reduce the skills gap across the industry ahead of major UK construction and infrastructure projects and promote engineering as a career of choice. Read on to find out how we’re going to be supporting the initiatives, tackling the challenges and bringing you inspiring content.

Creativity and Inspiration

The Year of Engineering aims to leverage the UK’s proud engineering heritage alongside exciting developments in technology to inspire young children into pursuing STEM subjects.

In a previous article we highlighted the importance of raising awareness of careers in engineering from the youngest possible age. Every year, primary school kids around the country celebrate careers day by dressing up as the job they’d like to do when they grow up. Amidst the mini doctors, firefighters and nurses turning up at the school gates, you won’t spot many mini-engineers; particularly amongst the girls. While the general message that a STEM-focused education is a route into a wide variety of interesting and lucrative careers seems to be getting through in high schools and further education environments, children’s ideas about potential future careers are often formed at a much earlier age.

The answer is that education about engineering needs to go beyond the classroom and into the community so that both future generations and their influencers understand the true diversity and opportunity on offer. Only by changing perceptions about engineering can we change the demographics of those choosing to enter the sector.

Indeed, inspiration is as important as education and this year we hope to showcase some of the most exciting engineering projects in development.  In the 1950’s and 60’s, young children were mesmerised by mankind smashing down ‘insurmountable’ barriers by going into space. In 2018 we’re breaking land speed records and hitting 1,000mph as the Bloodhound project roars to its impressive conclusion. The Bloodhound project has been undeniably successful, involving 3 million children in related STEM activities. From building go-karts to runway testing educational days, the project has captured the imagination of a young generation in a way that only a white-knuckle sprint into the unknown can. In February we will be getting up close and personal with the Bloodhound, exploring the tangible impact of research, design and development.

Routes into Engineering

This is a golden age for the engineering industry, which contributes a vast £280bn to the UK economy. With more than £400bn worth of projects in the pipeline, including High Speed 2, Crossrail 2 and Hinkley Point C, the message post EU referendum is clear – Britain is most definitely open to global trade on a massive scale. This infrastructure growth has highlighted the need to encourage a new generation into engineering, making the Year of Engineering activities even more pertinent.

HS2 is the largest infrastructure project in Europe and will be being constructed for some 15 years. It is estimated that the supply chain will need around 24,000 people at the projects’ peak. With skills gaps already existing in rail, organisations like The National College for High Speed Rail are working to bridge this gap by training around 1,000 school leavers, career changers and current contractors. It’s essential that we use HS2 to attract a younger generation into rail careers as well as upskilling existing engineers. As part of the Year of Engineering we’ll be continuing to work closely with the College to maximise jobs and skills opportunities by upskilling future talent and leave a lasting skills legacy in the region.

Morson International operations director Adrian Adair explains: “One of the simplest ways to bridge the skills gap is by training the next generation of professionals and skilled workers. We already deliver intermediate apprenticeships through our dedicated training arm, Morson Vital Training, and recently partnered with the National College for High Speed Rail to give our apprentices access to higher level pathways, right through to degree level.”

We also have the UK’s biggest nuclear new build in 5 years with Hinkley Point C. Last year we looked into the projects resourcing problems with 20% of today’s nuclear workforce passing the age of 65 in the next ten years and 25,000 new roles need to be filled.  In reply to these challenges we are investing more in training apprentices and graduates, and this long-term project provides us with the opportunity to bridge the skills gap at grassroots level. By working with colleges and universities and developing internships within the nuclear supply chain, we can positively address the future skilling needs of the later stages of nuclear build programmes and the continuing decommissioning process. Throughout the Year of Engineering we will be documenting this progress – following our engineering apprentices as they continue their journey to qualification.

Morson’s commitment to encouraging young talent into engineering continues strongly in 2018 with Morson Group pledging a further 15 fully-funded engineering scholarships with Salford University for the 2017/18 academic year as part of its ongoing commitment to develop the next generation of engineers, scientists and technologists. Bringing the total number of scholarships to 30, the Gerry Mason Engineering Excellence Scholarship, set up by the late Morson Group founder, enables talented young people who would otherwise be deterred from university because of the associated tuition fees and living costs, to pursue an engineering degree.

It’s clearly going to be an exciting year for the industry. Throughout 2018, Morson will be supporting the Year of Engineering by sharing inspiring engineering stories, hosting events, capturing video interviews and much more. Visit our dedicated Year of Engineering 2018 page.