|Picture: Birmingham Mail|
Moments later, EngineeringUK's 2013 report The state of engineering arrives, hot off the press. It has the same message. Engineering companies are projected to have 2.74 million job openings between now and 2020, of which 1.86 million will need engineering skills. Satisfying this demand means, in rough figures, a doubling of recruits to the sector. The report also points out that the average starting salary of £25,762 for engineering and technology graduates is nearly 16 per cent higher than the average for all graduates.
All very timely, as I am off to deliver the keynote speech at Engineer your future, the first STEMinism event for women engineering students, hosted at the Shell Centre in London. At least I won't be castigated for advising them to go into a dead end career, remembering the time I was speaking at a construction conference in the late nineties. One delegate was vociferous in his disapproval of efforts to encourage women into the building trades "because they'll all lose their jobs when the inevitable downturn comes."
|Warming up at Engineer your future|
Sitting round a table with a workshop group, one young woman describes how she is studying engineering for all the reasons that I have highlighted - the excitement, the wonder and the sense of achievement - but says that the teaching at her top rank university has sucked all that out of her. She has decided to go into management consultancy. In striking contrast another waxes eloquent about her course. "It’s brilliant," she says. "Really interesting and we work on real projects and I can’t wait for my year in industry.”
|Delivering the keynote: Motivation, innovation and self-preservation|
|Jessica Jones, electronics inventor|
Jessica is now studying Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Cardiff University. She is also in the process of patenting a form of fibre optic sensing technology and setting up a limited company to market this product. Recognising this youthful talent, on 6 December at the IET’s Young Women Engineer awards, Jessica was announced winner of the 2012 Intel Inspirational Award for Entrepreneurship.
Back to the need for engineers. Sir James Dyson thinks that more students should be encouraged to come to the UK to study engineering and then stay here. EngineeringUK believes that we should be growing our own, encouraging more young people - particularly girls - in the UK to stick with the maths and physics to go on to take up careers in engineering.
One of the slides I show when promoting women in engineering is a photo collage of the women who have recently become presidents of professional engineering institutions. I highlight the fact that they all run their own businesses and also point out that we have yet to see a woman president of an electrical engineering professional body. Looking at Jessica and the other finalists at the IET, it will surely not be too long before that gap is filled.