IET chief executive gives evidence to MPs

4 December 2012
IET Communications team
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Houses of Parliament

Nigel Fine represents the engineering profession at skills inquiry.

IET chief executive Nigel Fine has given oral evidence to a House of Commons Science and Technology Committee inquiry into ‘Engineering Skills’.

Nigel represented the engineering profession through the Education for Engineering (E4E) alliance.

Vocational routes

Key skills issues facing the engineering sector include the need for a mix of both academic and vocational training to be offered so that technical learning opportunities are provided for everyone who wishes to pursue them.

In his evidence, Nigel said: “More work needs to be done to improve the public’s understanding of what engineering is and the diversity of engineering jobs and careers, including vocational routes and especially apprenticeships.

“Properly accredited and approved engineering apprenticeship schemes provide a high-quality alternative to traditional academic routes. Starting an apprenticeship should be seen as the first step to a successful engineering career with clear pathways through to the most senior roles.”

Nigel highlighted the value of technical education to complement the English Baccalaureate (for example the application of science and mathematics using Design & Technology and the Engineering Diploma at Key Stages 2 and 3).

Engaging young people

“Careers advice in the UK is very poor”, said Nigel. “Schools are still focused on sending pupils to university rather than through vocational and technical pathways. It is important to recognise that both routes are equally valuable. Teachers and careers advisors within schools must do more to raise awareness of these routes as a viable option for their students.”

E4E strongly believes that to encourage the study of technical subjects, young people must be engaged pre-14 so they can make an informed decision about subject choices. If this is not addressed, there will be a worryingly small pipeline of young people going on to pursue technical careers, resulting in a continuing skills gap and negative consequences for the UK economy.  

Data from the IET’s 2012 Skills and Demand in Industry Annual Survey shows that the engineering workforce age profile continues to increase, which could become problematic if more young people do not enter the profession.

Nigel’s evidence session on Parliament TV

A recording of Nigel Fine’s oral evidence session is available on demand via Parliament TV.

More on E4E

Education for Engineering is the body through which the engineering profession offers coordinated advice on education and skills policy to UK Government and the devolved Assemblies. It deals with all aspects of learning that underpin engineering.

It is hosted by the Royal Academy of Engineering with membership drawn from the professional engineering community including all 36 Professional Engineering Institutions, the Engineering Council and EngineeringUK.