Drive to recruit next generation of engineers starts young
Worcester City Council and the Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership have set up the city’s first Engineering Challenge for Primary Schools, in a bid to encourage more young people to consider a career in the profession.
For years employers have warned of an acute shortage of skilled engineers at all levels in the UK – it is estimated that the country needs 1.8 million new engineers and technicians by 2025.
Gary Woodman, Chief Executive of Worcestershire LEP said: “Worcestershire is a county that has a number of science and technology based businesses. Those businesses are experiencing skills shortage and therefore this exciting initiative is inspiring the next generation of engineers who will drive the economy in the future.”
Mounting evidence suggests that children need to be enthused and informed about the profession at a much earlier age.
Fifteen primary schools in Worcester have entered the competition, with heats taking place throughout February.
Cllr Geoff Williams, Vice Chair of the City Council’s Economic and Place Sub Committee, said: “We would like children in every school in Worcester to have some hands-on experience of engineering, a clearer understanding of what engineers do and the huge impact their work can have in everyday life.
“Local employers tell us they are crying out for more people with specialist engineering, science and computing knowledge – there are really fantastic career prospects out there for those who do develop these skills.”
Children aged between eight and 11 were set the challenge to design and build a pedestrian bridge crossing the River Severn by Gheluvelt Park – a project which is being given serious consideration by the City Council.
The Council has joined forces with STEMworks (www.stemworks.co.uk), a local organisation specialising in education outreach work, to bring the challenge to local classrooms.
STEMworks Ambassador Sarah Lalor explains: “Many children don’t know what engineering really involves – they often think it’s similar to being a mechanic and involves getting dirty.
“We want children to realise there’s more to engineering than they thought. It requires skills in maths, creativity, design, communication, imagination and science.”
St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Warndon was one of the schools to take part in the heats.
“It’s been really good – it’s different and I’ve found it fairly easy,” said pupil Leon Kaminski.
Ethan Mackinnln added, “I’d maybe like to be a nuclear engineer or an inventor when I grow up.”
Class teacher Rebecca Hill is also enthusiastic. “Kids love building – it gives them an opportunity to let their imagination run wild,” she says.
“The whole class is taking part – it’s good to see the girls getting involved and showing that they can be great engineers too.”
A winning pair of students will be chosen from each participating school to compete in the Final, which will take place in Worcester’s Hive on Friday 2 March. Worcester Bosch’s CEO Carl Arntzen and Philippa Smith, Deputy Director of Place at Worcester City Council will help judge the final event.
Competing Worcester schools are: Claines Primary School; Cranham Primary School; Carnforth School; Holymount School; Lyppard Grange Primary School; Nunnery Wood Primary School; Oasis Academy Warndon; Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Primary School; Perrywood Primary School; St. Barnabas CE Primary School; St. George’s CE Primary School; St. George’s Catholic Primary School; St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School; Stanley Road Primary School and Whittington CE Primary School.
There is still time to enter this year’s competition – if your school is interested, contact Deborah Reed, STEMWorks Ltd
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01452 865028