Am I missing something?
David Cameron says that for economic growth we need to bring manufacturing back into the UK and that, to support this, we need more engineers.
Research done by Semta, the engineering skills council, shows that over the next four years, the UK will need 96,300 new engineers and scientists just to replace those who are retiring, let alone to grow the manufacturing sector.
So, you would think that everything would be being done to encourage young people into engineering – but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Just last month the UK Government downgraded the engineering diploma from the equivalent of five GCSEs … to one. How does that help?
For many children, studying Design and Technology in school is the first taste they will have of engineering. It is the only subject in the curriculum that provides the opportunity to combine practical and technological skills with creative thinking and problem solving – all skills relevant to engineering.
I recently met Design and Technology students at Fulham Cross Girls School. They showed me their projects, which displayed immense talent and a professional approach. Here, I thought, are the designers, engineers and entrepreneurs of the future.
But the core curriculum status of Design and Technology is under threat. As a result, students are discouraged from pursuing it at A level and beyond.
One UK initiative recently announced that will help promote engineering, is the Queen Elizabeth Engineering Prize. Last week I had the pleasure of meeting one of the organisers. I am passionate about raising awareness of the importance of engineering and I will publicly voice my support for this brilliant initiative.
It is hoped that the UK will become internationally recognised as home to the equivalent of the Nobel Prize – for engineering. This should help to change the perception of engineering in Britain. But that is quite a challenge.
In the UK engineers are often regarded as mechanics with greasy rags, whereas in Germany and in Japan, for example, they command the highest respect. Unless we value, respect and properly reward our engineers, the bright young things that leave our universities will continue to head for the City, the finance sector and the well paid professions – not to careers in engineering or manufacturing.
Mr Cameron, we need to see some joined up thinking please.
If you want manufacturing to return to the UK, you need to nurture the budding engineers and product designers of the future.
Mandy Haberman is the inventor of the Anywayup cup, entrepreneur and IP activist. For more information go to MandyHaberman.com, http://www.twitter.com/anywayupcup, http://www.facebook.com/anywayupcup.