Mills CNC project engineer, Carl Patrick, has been awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship Grant to:
i) research and understand German, Japanese and American young peoples’ perceptions of, and attitudes towards, engineering and engineering careers;
ii) highlight best-practice initiatives (introduced within these countries) that have helped promote and create more ‘positive’ perceptions of engineering;
iii) recommend strategies that can/could be implemented in the UK to encourage more young people to consider, and ultimately choose, a career in engineering.
Aged 31, Carl Patrick, a project engineer at Mills CNC (the exclusive distributor of Doosan machine tools in the UK and Ireland), has been awarded a Fellowship Grant from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT), to research German, Japanese and American young peoples’ knowledge and perceptions of engineering and engineering careers in their respective countries.
The research project will be undertaken by Carl throughout 2017 and will involve him travelling to the three countries to talk directly to young people in schools and colleges, apprentices, employers, education and training providers and organisations involved in promoting engineering and manufacturing.
At the end of the project Carl will report back his findings to the Trust and produce a report that highlights best-practice and that provides evidence of German, Japanese and American initiatives and strategies that have helped raise awareness and improve the profile of engineering as a positive career path for young people to follow.
Says Carl Patrick:
“UK engineering and manufacturing companies have concerns about attracting and retaining top talent into the sector. They are (and have been for some time) experiencing issues related to skills shortages and are naturally worried about the numbers of qualified and committed young people choosing and entering into engineering careers.
“From the outside there doesn’t appear to be the same level of concern or problems being experienced in Germany, Japan or the US – and the research project I am undertaking will help identify why this is the case.”
Carl Patrick is under no illusions about the scale or complexity of the task ahead.
Indeed successive governments and numerous Industry organisations and associations, over many years, have struggled with the issue – and the number of initiatives introduced to combat ‘negative’ perceptions relating to engineering and manufacturing are many and varied. These have included – and still include:
- Developing school: industry links and work-experience placements for young people;
- Promoting STEM subjects in primary and secondary schools;
- Initiatives aimed at attracting girls and women into engineering;
- A plethora of online portals and websites dedicated to raising awareness and challenging perceptions.
“It’s clear that there’s no magic bullet”, says Carl, “and that changing perceptions doesn’t and won’t happen over night either.”
Although at the start of the project Carl already has a number of hypotheses regarding engineering’s poor perception amongst young people in the UK.
“The media has a part to play as well as parents, schools, colleges and careers advisory organizations…to name but a few.”
Carl also posits that a more ‘joined up’ approach between all interested and involved parties needs to occur…and that the attractiveness and diversity of opportunities that exist in engineering (now and in the future) need to be provided to primary school children
He also points out that remuneration rates for engineers in many (competitive) countries are much higher than in the UK and, as a consequence, are looked upon more favorably.
“I am going into this project with an open mind. Even though I may have some ideas already, I am on fact-finding mission and the end game isn’t about proving whether my thinking is right or wrong but about helping to address negative perceptions regarding engineering.
“If other countries do things better…then why not learn from them?”
Carl is being supported in his endeavours by his employer, Mills CNC.
Says Tony Dale, Mills CNC’s Technical Director:
“We have passion for engineering and, from our own experience and that of our customers, know that skills shortages are beginning to bite. We have to attract the next generation of creative and dedicated engineers into the industry to ensure that the UK maintains its competitiveness and economic prowess.
“The project being undertaken by Carl will, I’m sure, be a real eye-opener and its results could well have wide and far reaching ramifications for everyone involved in engineering, manufacturing and the education and training of our young people.”