DSEI 2019’s Defence Engineering Skills Conference (DESC) will take place on Thursday 12th September at ExCel, London. The conference provides a unique opportunity for those interested in engineering education and industry to explore the challenges faced by the defence sector and innovative suggestions for their solutions.
The conference also comes at a pertinent time as the UK faces a national skills shortage in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths (STEM), and will serve to show how the defence industry is playing a vital role in tackling that shortage within an integrated approach. The Defence STEM Engagement interlinks with national initiatives from the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, along with devolved equivalents across the UK. The Ministry of Defence has also committed to the government’s apprenticeship reform programme, offering apprenticeships including craft, technician training and engineering.
DESC has been launched at the request of the MoD Defence Engineering Skills Champion and Chief of Materiel (Air) at Defence Equipment and Support, Air Marshall Julian Young, as part of an ongoing initiative to address the skills shortage. Representatives from a number of universities with Defence STEM training programmes have been invited to attend, and to give their input into how the problem is being tackled across all three British Forces.
DESC’s themes focus on building resilience through greater collaboration and cohesion across the enterprise of the Armed Forces, Civil Service and Industry, and professional institutions and academia.
Participants will include engineer employers from across the defence enterprise, including armed forces, civil service and industry. Professional engineering institutions and defence-partnered academic institutions will also be represented.
Speakers will address the challenges of attracting graduates into a defence engineering career, including methods of retention and professional development. There will also be a focus session on lateral entry and the shift of skill requirements in the digital age.
DESC aims to share good practice across defence engineering while informing the current direction of travel of the defence approach to tackling the skills challenge. It will also support the Defence Professionalisation Strategy, specifically its objective 'to promote and support the holistic engagement between Defence, professional engineering institutions and society.'
Air Marshal Julian Young, Defence Engineering Champion, said: “Only through a clarity of purpose, coherence of approach and closer collaborative effort can we in the Defence Sector build sufficient resilience to address the current national engineering skills shortfall. This a whole-force and through-life matter, and we must act to attract, recruit and retain the talent we need in a competitive environment. Against this backdrop, this conference seeks to stimulate debate and promote a joined-up approach to manage engineering skills across the Defence Sector, spanning the Ministry of Defence, Industry, Professional Institutions and Academia.”
MoD speakers at DESC include Group Captain Gordon Bettington (Deputy Commandant), Captain David Joyce (Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff Branch Management), Col Nick Sharples (Chief Engineer) and Captain Mike Rose (Defence Engineering Champion Team Leader, Ministry of Defence and Programme Director).