Forty years ago, I was just about to leave school and embark on my working career. After some deliberation I decided that Engineering, specifically Building Services Engineering would be the path I would follow. The initial inspiration came from an event I attended that was sponsored and hosted by the Construction Industry Training Board or the CITB which is still going strong to this day.

The importance of such events to showcase the many exciting and diverse opportunities that are available within the Engineering Industry and the impact that we have as individuals to provide the initial introduction and continue to inspire, guide and mentor the next generation of young engineers continues to ring true today.

There is a chronic shortage of people becoming engineers. The engineering industry is facing a skills shortage of unprecedented levels with 186,000 people needing to be trained by 2024 in the UK alone.

Children form ideas of “suitable” careers at a very young age, and parents, teachers and employers are not engaging them early enough. Young children may already be put off a career in engineering before they even reach secondary school, and generally employers could do more to promote modern engineering.

So many young people who have an engineering skill and aptitude are lost to the sector because they are not given that early encouragement.

We need children of a young age to be given the opportunity to see and understand what modern cutting-edge engineering is all about and then be inspired to feel that is what they want to do.

A skills shortage within engineering can delay projects, negatively impact on the profitability of companies and effect their relationships with clients across all sectors.

As a company, B&W are involved in several initiatives that encourage young people to consider a career in the world of construction. We support the graduate engineering programmes with links to universities in the UK and the Philippines, having recently sponsored the scholarship of 2 high school graduates in Manilla. Both students have now commenced a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at the University of the Philippines. Upon graduation we hope to offer the students an opportunity to join our team and provide a platform to forge a career in our industry.

We also support alternative initiatives such as PlanBEE, the innovative higher education scheme which allows aspiring engineering and construction professionals to earn whilst learning through day-release studies and work placements. This initiative gives these youngsters the chance to learn in a real-life engineering and construction environment.

Targeting the younger age groups, we have hoped to inspire young children by participating in education exhibitions where our own engineers chat to kids and show them just how exciting engineering can be in the hope of capturing their imagination at a young age.

Employers should be flexible in their approach to finding and retaining the next generation of engineering talent and ensure that they are inspired throughout their careers so we can reap the benefits both economically and socially.

Today we face the issue of youth unemployment and a shortage of job seekers with critical skills. It is essential that companies intervene with programmes and initiatives to successfully move young people from education to skilled employment. After all, we can build places that shall stand among the wonders of the world; but unless we put the right people in the right place and unless we make it possible for the next generation of those people to enjoy a sense of satisfaction in their jobs, our efforts will have been in vain.

By Andrew Pallet, Associate Director