The future of the engineering industry Is at risk

Published:  19 February, 2024

CEO of multi-disciplinary engineering firm adi Group Alan Lusty speaks ahead of National Engineers Week 2024, commenting on the dire need to engage and inspire young students into the profession.

He says: “Inspiring young students to pursue engineering by showing them the extraordinary opportunities it offers is key.

“The engineering labour shortage is still very much an issue in the UK, with a concerning shortfall of engineers, meaning that better promoting engineering should be a priority.

“Creating environments that nurture the growth of STEM skills, eliminate stigma and break down barriers is invaluable. Put simply, the perception of engineering needs to change in the eye of young people if we are to make progress.

“Engineering opens all kinds of doors, being at the forefront of innovation across various fields, making a real impact on society and solving global challenges.

“It involves creativity, collaboration and problem-solving, and is a dynamic and constantly evolving field that allows for continuous learning.

“Stigma surrounding engineering is a major obstacle. Negative perceptions of the industry are widespread, largely stemming from a harmful lack of awareness and understanding of what engineering entails.

“Engineering offers a diverse range of career paths, something that is often overlooked. It may also be perceived as too ‘difficult’ – a field that is almost challenging to get into. Again, these misconceptions are driven by an insufficient understanding of the industry, with limited public knowledge of the positive impact of engineering and its various applications.

“And of course, there are stereotypes contributing to this stigma, with the industry being perceived as lacking diversity and being male-dominated amongst other areas. This unfortunately plays a significant role in discouraging women and minority groups from pursuing engineering, which is particularly detrimental.

“It is vital that these stereotypes and misconceptions are challenged, and that we focus on spotlighting the sheer power and significance of engineering”.

Recent research by Stonehaven has revealed that the industry is nearing a shortfall of one million engineers by 2030, caused by the impending retirement of a fifth of existing engineers by 2026, and an annual shortfall of 59,000 engineering jobs per year.

Polling by the international consultancy has also shown that Gen Z individuals are reluctant to pursue a career in engineering, with 30% stating they would not choose engineering and 34% believing the sector was too male-dominated. And these same stats were only slightly lower for the millennials polled.

“There’s an urgent need for a change of image in engineering. And if one of the issues is an aging workforce, it is clear that more should be done to engage young people”, Mr Lusty continued.

“So, how do we create inclusive, effective experiences for potential future engineers and ensure they reach young individuals?

“More should be done to spotlight the vital role of vocational education such as apprenticeships, which are still an undervalued yet highly effective way into the sector – with proven benefits for employers, too.

“Providing individuals with invaluable practical experience, industry-specific skills, direct guidance from experienced mentors, and the opportunity to build professional networks from a young age, apprenticeships are a sure-fire way to success.

“However, we also need new and innovative ways to inspire youth into the sector, getting them involved from an even younger age.

“Having launched a pre-apprenticeship scheme for 14- to 16-year-olds, adi Group has pioneered an entirely one-of-a-kind platform to provide young people with insights and effective training into engineering.

“Now in its eighth year, we have been able to witness first-hand the ways in which this scheme has been instrumental in challenging misconceptions or concerns surrounding engineering and showing youngsters the attractiveness of the profession.

“Each year, our pre-apprenticeship programme offers 12 students from a nearby school the opportunity to develop their hands-on engineering skills with purpose-built workshops over a two-year span, half a day per week.

“This allows them to experience a real-world work environment and a live manufacturing facility, which enables them to practice core skills such as drawing, measuring and filing, welding and control panel building.

“The students leave the programme with a formal Engineering and Learning (EAL) accredited qualification, and crucially, in a great position to move into a full-time apprenticeship at the age of 16.

“We actively believe in the power of our scheme to transform the perception of engineering in the eyes of young people, and we actively work to engage minority groups to increase diversity and accessibility.

“We want to urge other businesses to consider just how beneficial the adoption of a similar scheme is, both for their company and for the future of the engineering industry as a whole”.

To learn more about adi Group and its trailblazing pre-apprenticeship programme or its industry-leading apprenticeship schemes, please visit:

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