Encouraging future engineers
I t was the lucky few of us who knew at an early age which profession they would like to follow. When asked this question, children answer honestly and name jobs that they know and can relate to say a train driver, dancer or a pilot. However, pretty early in their lives they need to make vital choices, choosing GCSEs and A levels. We need to grasp and enthuse children at this stage so that they are able to make their own valuable judgement on which occupation they could pursue.
Being a professional engineer passionate on the subject, it frustrates me that there is such a shortage of professionals within the workforce and that multinational engineering companies have no alternative but to recruit from the likes of India, China and Poland. We need to take back a step and rethink the ethos and ideas of why our students are not interested. There could be a number of factors, however the facts remain that the industry is at a crisis.
GCSE students are given industrial placements, usually in their second year, for either one or two weeks. We have taken on numerous students from different backgrounds to give them an insight into professional engineering. They are all given an exciting project and are mentored throughout, shown the practical workings of the job and even taken on site meetings. Seeing that work is not just a boring 9-5 desk job, but involves a practical solution to a problem is usually enough to motivate a smile and thought that Ďhey maybe this work isnít that badí.
As well as the industrial placements, we also offer placement schemes for students usually in their second or third years, normally studying engineering. Itís a satisfying feeling to see students develop and gaining valuable experience, working in our teams, providing helpful input from a studentís perspective.
However, we look at this and for which ever profession, helping our younger generation make their important choices in life can only be positive. Whether their reactions are good or bad, at least some type of decision has been made.
This year, as A level results come out, universities are showing a higher rise in entries to science subjects such as astrophysics, as well as maths. Physics departments are now opening instead of closing. Maybe the likes of Brian Cox and the 'wonders of the universe' along with cult following programmes such as 'the big bang theory' have proven to our younger generation that studying science can be cool!
Jan Niklewicz is a Structural Engineer at JNDC: www.jndc.co.uk