The UKâs industrial growth plans could be ruined by a severe lack of engineering skills and an ineffective education system. The Government, as well as the industry, are well aware that the lack of progress being made by secondary and higher education in producing the engineering talent required will affect the country. This issue is analysed further down by Safia Barikzai of London South Bank University, who decided to share her opinion with the world.
Significant improvements have been made in encouraging students to take engineering courses at university, but there is still plenty more work to be done. An option could be making engineering compulsory within the national curriculum, while increasing the resources available to children to spark their interest in the subject.
However, Safia thinks that the main problem is the lack of diversity in the industry. Women donât have enough role models to influence them into pursuing a career in engineering. In the rail industry for example, there is the same number of women working today as there was when the Second World War ended. Even when women do get represented by this industry, they are usually placed in customer service and frontline roles, rather than rail engineering and technical jobs.
Graduates from black and minority ethnic background also face substantial barriers to employment, even if they have the right skills and qualifications for it. This shows that inequality is still an issue in the industry, and unless it overcomes these prejudices, the workforce will keep lacking talented people.
London South Bank University has been trying to find new ways to attract new people in the engineering industry. For example, they started offering more degree places to females, students from black and minority ethnic background, and those coming from low-income families. They have also collaborated with the Association for BME Engineers and organised events to improve professional skills, increase confidence, and enhance studentsâ social capital.
The industry needs to be more creative with ways to widen the pool of engineering talent, while the university courses need to evolve to ensure they are prepared to meet future challenges.