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STC announces major skills initiative to aid UK industry and educators

Author: Silverstone Technology Cluster
Published On: 6 December 2023

‘Skills’ has been added as a fourth pillar of the Silverstone Technology Cluster after CEO Pim van Baarsen announced a new initiative by the network to get UK industry and educators working together to inspire young people about careers in engineering and manufacturing.

“As of today, STC also stands for Skills as well as Promotion, Support and Thought Leadership” said Pim as he addressed a 150-plus strong audience at the network’s Innovation & Growth Conference.

During his presentation (which members can watch on our website), Pim highlighted a worrying set of statistics that UK engineering and manufacturing is struggling to encourage and recruit enough people for the future.

The statistics, provided by the Institution of Engineering & Technology, revealed that in the UK:

  • 49% of engineering firms struggle to find the skills they need
  • The current engineering shortfall in the UK is 173,000 people
  • 18,000 more engineers retire each year than begin a career in the industry
  • Just 16.5% of engineers are women
  • 29% of the LGBTQ community would avoid engineering for fear of being discriminated against
  • Only 57% of engineering graduates go on to have a career in the industry
  • 5% of current engineers will have retired by 2026

“We’re also hearing that Year 8 (12-13 years old), most girls have already decided they aren’t interested in engineering,” Pim told the audience.

“I find these statistics alarming because to me these are not the figures of a thriving successful industry.

“So no matter how cool the stuff is you’re working on, no matter how full your orders books are, if we keep doing what we’ve always been doing then these numbers are only going to get worse and it’s not going to end well.”

He added: “We (the industry) can’t afford to turn people away. We have to do better.”

As a result, the STC has launched a new ‘Skills Workstream that will set out to:

  • Remove incorrect stereotypes from a young age
  • Promote/showcase how engineering can be an attractive career to young people of all ages
  • Encourage companies to create a supportive and welcoming environment
  • Enable more apprentice and project placements
  • Create further links between industry and education
  • Make it easier for students and new starters to settle

Pim explained that the workstream will help to achieve the above by:

  • Facilitating ‘pooled apprenticeships’
  • Creating an Educators and Industry Forum to ‘close the gaps’ and improve communication
  • Enabling communal training for companies to reduce costs and improve efficiency
  • Partnering with careers fairs
  • Having a dedicated events and content

Pim said: “We ask anybody who wants to get involved in or support the skills initiative with the Silverstone Technology Cluster to please contact us.”

He continued: “We want to bring educators and industry together for their mutual benefit – to aid recruitment and retention, plus upskilling, and making young people aware of the opportunities.

“We want to help the cluster companies find the people that they need to ensure there is a skills pipeline and so that we don’t see those depressing stats continue.

“We feel that if we all work together and collaborate then we can make a difference and the statistics shows we really should.”

By Carl McKellar

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