At an event in Aberdeen today, Shell set out how its major investment in the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme will help to address Scotland’s science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills shortage.
Every year, the UK faces a shortfall of over 81,000 people with engineering skills. Between 2010-2020 Scotland will need to recruit 160,000 people with engineering skills. To meet this demand Scotland needs to double the number of graduate and apprenticeship engineers.
Last November, the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills called for urgent and co-ordinated action from employers to address the country’s STEM skills-shortage. The Review recommended that the most effective way for industry to address the shortage was through Tomorrow’s Engineers, a school science and engineering careers programme run by EngineeringUK.
Shell is contributing over £1million to expand the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme throughout the UK. In 2014, Tomorrow’s Engineers reached 217 secondary schools across Scotland. Shell’s investment will give thousands more Scottish students, aged 11-14 year old, hands-on engineering experiences and help them explore the diverse range of opportunities that a technical career can provide.
Speaking today at the Aberdeen launch event with Jenny Marra MSP and Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, Erik Bonino, Chairman of Shell UK, said: “Scotland is famous across the globe as a pioneer of innovation, with world-changing breakthroughs from the likes of James Watt, Alexander Graham Bell and John Logie Baird. The North Sea is one example of an economic success that was only made possible through the innovation and ingenuity of scientists and engineers.
“But the on-going shortage of technical skills risks jeopardising the country’s success. We need to inspire the next generation of Scottish scientists and engineers, and this starts in the classroom. Shell’s investment will enable today’s students to unearth hidden talents and help them become the innovators of tomorrow.”
One of the most immediate ways to address the skills shortage is to change the way the industry approaches education outreach. Despite huge investment from the wider engineering industry, STEM activities are not efficiently delivered. Analysis by Boston Consulting Group shows that, simply by coordinating the same levels of investment efforts on a regional basis, it’s possible to triple the number of young people reached and inspired to pursue a technical career.
Mr Bonino called on Scotland’s wider engineering community to work together and pool resources to address the STEM skills shortage: “It is the responsibility of the entire engineering community to work together and help secure the scientists and engineers Scotland needs for a successful future. That is why I am calling on businesses across Scotland to support Tomorrow’s Engineers.”
Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said :
“Tomorrow’s Engineers focuses on helping young people understand the variety, excitement and opportunity presented by a career in engineering, so that an equal number of girls and boys aspire to become an engineer and UK employers get the engineers they need. If we are to tackle the skills shortage head on we need to attract more women into the industry. Only 7% of the UK’s engineering workforce is female.
Research shows that girls who have participated in the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme are 50 per cent more likely to cite engineering as a desirable career choice. We want to build on this success.”
Other businesses, both large and small, who want to support STEM activities in schools, can get involved with Tomorrow’s Engineers in a number of ways :
- By committing funding to enable Tomorrow’s Engineers to reach more students, in more schools across the UK.
- By sharing information on the schools that they already work with, businesses can contribute to the national STEM outreach database maintained by Tomorrow’s Engineers. This can help businesses identify where their support is most needed.
- By encouraging company volunteers, or ‘STEM Ambassadors’, who can be teamed up with local schools through the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme.
Using the Tomorrow’s Engineers toolkit helps businesses to set up school activities and workshops efficiently. The toolkit includes inspirational resources about engineering careers, providing schools with an even richer experience.