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Who Will Engineer Our Future?

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Rebekah Valero-Lee engineering

Developments in technology, huge investment, skills shortages and a focus on equal opportunities means that the engineering industry is changing at a rapid pace. Engineering is no longer regarded as a ‘dirty job’ and this apprenticeship week we consider what our engineers of the future could look like and how they will shape the world:

Diversity

Historically the engineering industry has been stereotyped as ‘male, pale and stale’. With a recruitment shortfall entering the thousands, with HS2, Heathrow and Hinkley all requiring similar skills in the next 20years, it is imperative that engineering adapts in order to develop a more diverse workforce.

Already there are a number of great programmes that are helping to change perceptions, reputation and bridge this skills gap. Here at Morson International, we recently pledged a further 15 fully-funded engineering scholarships with Salford University as part of our ongoing commitment to develop the next generation of engineers.

The strong gender divide has been another unfortunate theme of the engineering sector, with just 7% of engineering apprentices and 15% of engineering and technology graduate’s female. As part of our commitment to attract more females in technical sectors, we’ve pledged to double the number of female engineers we employ by 2020.

The future of engineering depends on a more diverse workforce to foster innovation, economic success and ensure growth.

Education

The world faces a future where there will be fewer jobs due to automation.

For engineering education this means that apprenticeships, college and university programmes will have to become more interdisciplinary and focus on lifelong learning in order for future engineers to keep up with rapid technological innovation. Traditional conventions of educating in engineering fields will change to be more flexible and reactive to technological advancement.

Our future engineers will be unfamiliar with the traditional model of gaining qualifications and leaving education. Instead learning will be a lifelong process, with the half of life of engineering knowledge estimated at three to five years.

Skills and Technology

As the world evolves dynamically it will become intensely interconnected.  Those involved with technology and its applications will need to be multidisciplinary – understanding the social, cultural, political, and economic forces which will impact technological innovation.

Ever-shorter product development cycles through innovation will help drive society’s economic growth, and opportunities will arise through new developments in nanotechnology, logistics, biotechnology, and high-performance computing.

Neil Brayshaw, director of technical training at the National College for High Speed Rail, highlighted this, advocating broadening education to include more life skills, to produce engineers that are capable of leading engineering projects of tomorrow. Future engineers will need communication skills, entrepreneurial thinking, global knowledge, and an entrepreneurial outlook as much as they will need technical depth.