The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) has joined forces with 100 of the UK’s leading engineering companies, universities and colleges, including Diamond Light Source, in a drive to crack a skills shortage in the profession.
John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, attended the EngTech launch at the IMechE in Westminster on Tuesday 13 November. Through the EngTech Project the IMechE will raise the profile of the engineering profession across industry and encourage more people to see it as a career.
Members of Diamond's engineering team at the EngTech launch (left to right) Jim Kay, head of engineering, Allan Ross, beamline technician, Lee Davidson, beamline technician, Graeme Barlow, beamline technician, and Stewart Scott, beamline engineer
Stewart Scott, Beamline Engineer at Diamond, has been raising awareness of EngTech, the new grade of IMechE membership, within the company and is delighted that three Diamond technicians became IMechE qualified EngTechs at the launch event. These were Allan Ross, Lee Davidson and Graeme Barlow.
Stewart comments, "Engineering Technicians bring excellent skills and experience to the Engineering team here at Diamond. I think the IMechE’s new EngTech Project provides a formal appreciation that what they are bringing to the company is valued. I am very proud that these Engineering Technicians have successfully become qualified EngTechs and I hope others will be encouraged to come forward now.
Jim Kay, Head of Engineering at Diamond also attended the launch and is very keen to support and encourage our valuable engineering technicians to achieve this qualification. Jim comments,‘It has an added benefit that it gives an external and independent assessment of the quality and competence of our staff.'
At the launch event, Mr Denham was joined by the first IMechE qualified EngTech, Robert Manley of Reading, who works for the Atomic Weapons Establishment. Robert, who was interested in engineering from the age of 9, said: "Not everyone is ready to do a degree when they leave school or even what job they want. EngTech is a great opportunity for people leaving school who want to go into engineering and become an apprentice or a technician. Engineering affects every single thing we do, it improves people’s lives. How many people can say their job does that?"
The IMechE recently reported that regions such as the North East were facing shortages of up to 20,000 (process) engineers by 2014. A further study has highlighted that 70% of young people aged between 16-19 do not know even know what engineering is.
Among the IMechE’s top 100 supporting EngTech are: RollsRoyce, Astrium, Airbus, GlaxoSmithKline, Britvic, Corus, Diamond, MBDA, the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Ricardo, Land Rover, Siemens, BAE Systems, Network Rail, National Skills Council.
IMechE Chief Executive, Ruth Spellman, OBE said: "There is an untapped talent pool of 1.5million technicians currently working in the engineering and science sector. By bringing Engineering Technicians into membership we will be embracing a sector of the engineering community we have traditionally not been able to reach."
Following its EngTech launch the IMechE will be promoting it as a key route for technicians/apprentices to become fully qualified, professional engineers. The IMechE is also believed to be the first engineering institution in the country to be offering affiliate (student) membership of the IMechE free of charge to those enrolled on an apprenticeship scheme. Government statistics show that there are currently 1.5million technicians working in the science and engineering sector but only 13,000 of those are registered as EngTechs with the regulatory body for the profession, ECUK.
One of the colleges attending the launch is Centre for Engineering and Manufacturing Excellence (CEME) in Rainham, Essex. Programme director Jacqui Wordsworth said: "EngTech is vital as another route for all levels of engineers. CEME has about 100 apprentices on site and works with another 15 apprentices a year through its Gateway for Skills Programme. We also work with 500 school children a year, raising the awareness of engineering.
"We are promoting engineering as a career option and it’s about making sure that you have the right path route for the right person, whether it’s a degree, or an apprenticeship."
Diamond Light Source is the UK's national synchrotron science facility, located at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire.
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