UK skills minister says: “Make engineering sexy”

5th October 2010

UK skills and lifelong learning minister, John Hayes says that engineering must be made sexier to attract more young people to the profession.

Speaking during the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham yesterday at a fringe meeting organised by the Engineering the Future alliance, Hayes said: “We must make science more appealing and make engineering sexier...when I was at school we made things with metal and in woodwork lessons. You had to think about it, design it and create it and we need more of that.”

Hayes also backed engineering apprenticeships and said that the same value should be placed on good practical learning as academic qualifications.

An Industrial Policy for the 21st Century: Engineering growth in Britain was the third fringe meeting in as many weeks at the three major UK political party conferences. Speaking alongside Hayes was IChemE member and Chartered Chemical Engineer Jane Atkinson.

Atkinson, vice president at Sembcorp said that whilst the number of students opting for careers in engineering has risen in recent years, there is still much work ahead to meet the expected demand from employers over the next decade: “If we want to ensure young people consider engineering as career, we need to make sure they understand what an engineer does.”

Atkinson also encouraged government to recognise professional qualifications in engineering and support industry by reducing barriers to entry and the cost of doing business. Other speakers were former television presenter Kate Bellingham and Design Council chief executive David Kester.

The Engineering the Future alliance comprises IChemE, Engineering Council, Engineering UK, the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institute of Physics and the Royal Academy of Engineering.