ENGINEERING EDUCATION AND TRAINING PART 3: ENGINEERING INSTITUTIONS

My colleague Andrew Livesey MA CEng MIMechE is an engineering lecturer and author. This is part 3 of 3 articles by him on his personal views about Engineering Education and Training – he takes three themes – engineering jobs, engineering education courses and engineering institutions.

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In the two previous articles I discussed first engineering jobs then engineering education, this article continues the theme looking at engineering institutions, quite simply do they meet the needs of this new generation of engineers? This is a question being asked by many others. The article finishes with a seven-point plan to make things better all round. I invite your comments.

Many of the institutions have been trying to help with the practical side of engineering, which is clearly missing in schools, with initiatives such as Primary Engineer and Secondary Engineer. The previously mentioned constraints on schools means that these have minimal time and resources available – putting it bluntly they will have as much effect as painting pebbles on the beach as there are 8.2 million pupils attending 24,372 schools in England alone.

Now, our successful student has worked through school, completed his/her apprenticeship and taken on a role of production technician – how about the AMIMechE? Working to Chartered? Why should they? It’s cheaper to join the ‘Missing Three Million.’ That is the term given to the 3 Million engineers who are eligible for registration; but have not taken the option. When I chat to employers, many who are not engineers, all they talk about is ‘experience, experience, experience.’ This is fully understandable as there is now no clear pathway to professional engineer status, and this status is not a reflection of either capability nor experience.

Let’s now look at graduate engineers. Very few want to join an institution – as was discussed in the last article less than 60% remain in any form of engineering work after graduation. What’s more worrying is that many of the engineering degrees are not recognised by the institutions for registration purposes.

The engineering institutions do not appear to be aware of what is happening on the ground. Again, this is probably about what these organisations do and how they are structured. The salaries of the executives of these organisations are in the £250,000 plus bracket – again it’s about MBAs, and OBEs. It’s not about technical ability. What’s more worrying is the lack of engagement that the institutions, especially at executive level, have with members. There are lots of really enthusiastic members who give up their time freely to promote the institutions – these are the true heroes.

So, where are we?

I suggest that the following seven points need addressing:

  • Schools need to encourage technical education for – engineers, scientists, builders, technicians of all sorts. Giving the opportunities for students to try skills other than book work.
  • F/HE colleges need to be aware of the specific individual needs of local industry, students, and other stake holders.
  • The new T Level qualifications are coming, it is essential that employers, colleges and the institutions fully support them.
  • We need some real engineering entrepreneurs, to build engineering companies which will keep the profit in the UK so that engineers can have a good salary and the taxes will pay for the services which we need.
  • Engineering institutions need to waken up to the new opportunities which are present, wider classes of membership, promoting the benefits of registration, acting as the voice of engineering.
  • Kent County Council has set up an Engineering and Manufacturing Guild to promote engineering and related technical opportunities across the County – other local authorities should follow.
  • Finally – for the realisation that it is an engineer who makes things, including the equipment used by me to transmit this article to you.

 

Your comments are welcome – positive or negative, as I feel strongly about my country Great Britain – the workshop of the world, I’m a worker in this workshop and want to keep my job and help the next generation have as much fun engineering as I am having.

Andrew Livesey MA CEng MIMechE


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