Since January 2018, a pioneering government campaign called the 'Year of Engineering' has been running. It is aimed at attracting the next generation of innovators to the industry and boosting the overall numbers of those interested in a career in the sector.
The initiative aims to challenge perceived misconceptions about careers in engineering and has already seen businesses all over the UK delivering inspiring experiences for young people, parents and teachers. One company supporting the project is the Harlow-based manufacturer, Gratnells Engineering.
Historically known as the leading name in school storage in over 68 countries of the world, Gratnells Engineering has developed into a multi-sector manufacturer and now provide high volume laser cutting, powder coating and bespoke metal solutions to a wide range of customers. The company specialise in short run, quick turnaround projects.
A key aim of the 'Year of Engineering' campaign is to raise awareness of the multitude of options STEM students currently have at their disposal, by showing students the variety and scale of what today’s engineers get up to on a day-to-day basis.
Topics that have been and continue to be covered throughout 2018 includes creativity and inspiration, routes into engineering, improving lives, the environment and shaping the future.
Gratnells Engineering are a prime example of the limitless possibilities a career in the engineering sector can offer young people, and they remain committed to providing opportunities to those who show interest in STEM topics.
Just last year, three Harlow College students achieved apprenticeships at Gratnells Engineering and have gone on to become integral members of the team.
Sam Nokorongo is one of those apprentices, he said: “Since joining the apprenticeship scheme at Gratnells, I have worked closely with experienced engineers to gain valuable skills like problem solving, creating and innovating. It is proving to be a great way to prepare me for my future as an engineer.”
Apprenticeships are often seen as an excellent route into engineering, due to the ability to gain invaluable hands-on experience and the appeal of earning while learning. Philip McGowan, Injection Moulding Technical Manager, sees the benefits of the apprenticeship model, not only for students but for companies like Gratnells Engineering themselves.
“Our apprentices settled very well into what was a completely new environment for them. Their constant development is a testament to their attitude and they continue to learn new skills on a daily-basis. I also believe that other members of the team find it rewarding to be in a mentoring role for them, due to their energy and enthusiasm for learning."
In addition, Gratnells have been spreading the word on social media using #YoE and are continuing to engage with content that reinforces the Year of Engineering campaign and associated activities in the engineering sector.
Engineering remains one of the most productive sectors in the country, but a shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates every year is damaging overall growth. There is also a lack of diversity to be addressed in the wider sector, with the workforce currently 91% male and 94% white.
Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling said: "We want to show young people and their parents the immense creativity, opportunity and value of the profession. By bringing them face to face with engineering role models and achievements we can send a clear message that engineering careers are a chance for all young people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or social background, to shape the future of this country and have a real impact on the lives of those around them.”
With manufacturers like Gratnells Engineering supporting the campaign, the 'Year of Engineering' initiative is well positioned to aid in filling the skills gap and to continue helping a generation of young problem solvers discover a new passion and an exciting new career path.