A year ago tomorrow the Perkins Review of Engineering Skills called for urgent and co-ordinated action from employers to address this shortage, through Tomorrow’s Engineers. Shell’s three-year funding will enable the programme to expand into over 500 new schools across the UK, providing inspiration and advice about engineering to tens of thousands more students.
Speaking at the launch of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, Erik Bonino, Chairman of Shell UK, said:
“When it comes to inspiring the next generation of great British scientists, engineers and innovators, we need to start in schools. Tomorrow’s Engineers connects classroom learning to the exciting opportunities that a technical career can offer. Only by engaging young people and their teachers in this way, will we encourage more students to progress in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects and careers.”
Despite huge efforts from the wider engineering industry, the UK still has a huge STEM skills shortage. A key problem is that outreach remains fragmented. Whilst some schools benefit from multiple activities, others receive none. Analysis by Boston Consulting Group shows that, simply by coordinating efforts on a regional basis, it’s possible to triple the number of young people reached and inspired to become tomorrow’s engineers.
Mr Bonino called on the wider engineering community to work together and pool resources to address the STEM skills shortage: “With the UK looking to grow the innovation economy and boost GDP, government, business and the engineering community are all committed to growing our numbers of scientists and engineers.
There is no shortage of activity underway, but it’s not joined up and doesn't make the impact it should. Unless we get smarter in working together, we will miss a vital opportunity to create a rich talent pool for the future. In our industry alone, this is critical if we are to meet the significant energy challenges of the future.”
Business Secretary Vince Cable said:
“STEM skills are the lifeblood of this country’s high-tech industries, supporting growth and giving us the competitive edge. As a former employee of Shell, I know that the oil and gas industry offers good career prospects to any young engineer so I welcome their investment in the Tomorrow’s Engineers Campaign. Government is working with companies including Shell, as well as universities, colleges and schools to maintain the pipeline of future talent to keep British industry thriving.”
Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said:
“Our overarching aim is to ensure that every 11-14 year old has at least one employer-linked engineering experience to help them make the connection between classroom learning and career opportunities. Shell’s support for Tomorrow’s Engineers takes us considerably closer to that ambition. Last year, the Tomorrow’s Engineers programme directly reached over 50,000 students in 1,200 schools.
We hope other engineering companies will follow Shell’s lead in supporting Tomorrow’s Engineers. We call on engineering employers of every size and sector across the UK not only to give schools access to high-quality careers information and resources but to open their doors to show young people just how exciting a career as a 21st Century engineer can be.”
With the STEM skills shortage felt keenly across the gender divide, the Shell Tomorrow’s Engineers programme will place significant emphasis on driving up the number of girls who choose to pursue STEM subjects and careers. Already, 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.
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.