A blog from Nigel Fine, IET Chief Executive and Secretary, December 2021

The Ipsos MORI Veracity Index is the longest-running poll on trust of professions in Britain. This year, engineers were the sixth most trusted profession.

It is essential that society has trust in engineers as so much in life requires their skills which can have such an impact on everyone’s wellbeing.

It is true that our profession has been in the spotlight with events such as Grenfell in the UK, and as a result, it is more important than ever that we demonstrate that engineers can be trusted as a self-regulated profession in the UK, with all the correct checks and balances in place to show our professionalism, ethics, and competence.

The poll found engineers were trusted more by graduates. Perhaps this is because fellow students have seen first-hand the time and dedication it takes to gain a higher education qualification in engineering and technology.

It may also show that we must be doing something right to inspire and educate our younger generation about engineering and technology, regardless of if they choose it as a profession for them.

The IET does everything it can to support young people who want to enter the engineering profession. We set up the Diamond Jubilee Scholarship back in 2012 as university tuition fees increased and we introduced our IET Horizons Bursary, a key enabler to support people from a range of different backgrounds, often overcoming hardships, who wish to undertake an engineering apprenticeship or course at university.

These have now been replaced by the IET Future Talent Awards.

We believe that by investing in our next generation of engineers and technicians, we are connecting with them and helping to bridge the skills gap.

Our Annual Skills Survey, which was recently published is showing a positive movement in diversity within engineering, with around a third of engineering employers in the UK having taken action to increase the diversity of their workforce in terms of gender or ethnicity.

This is particularly evident with the number of women in engineering which, only a few years ago, stood at 9% and has now risen to 14.5%, of course there is still a long way to go.

It is known that organisations with a diverse workforce are more likely to come up with ideas and innovations that will be relevant to a broader range of society – that is why we are continually promoting engineering and technology careers to young girls and women around the world, helping them to see that they can be great engineers and technicians too.

We recently held our annual Young Women Engineer of the Year Awards (YWE), which is one of our most inspirational events we host throughout the year. It celebrates women working in modern engineering and seeks to find role models who can help us in promoting engineering careers to more girls and women.

Dr Ciara McGrath, an Aerospace Systems Lecturer at the University of Manchester, took the title of Young Women Engineer of the Year, and Dilani Selvanathan, Junior Software Engineer at Herotech8, won the IET Mary George Memorial Prize for Apprentices. Dilani was also a recipient of an IET Horizons Bursary while she was a degree apprentice – demonstrating how we continually support engineers at all stages of their careers.

All of the six finalists from this year’s event are a real credit to our profession, who I know will continue to champion engineering to inspire the next generation.

Inspirational events, such as YWE, makes me very proud of the work that we do at the IET.

It is fantastic to see our international offices celebrate their own young women engineers, with IET Hong Kong hosting a virtual awards ceremony and an upcoming event in India next month.

Across the globe, it is evident our teams are working hard to encourage more diversity within engineering with events such as Hong Kong’s IET Engineering Carnival featuring an ED&I session with women engineers sharing their thoughts on smart mobility in the 21st century and the IET150 Women in Engineering Talk hosted by the IET Young Professionals Section in Malaysia this month.

We want to change the perception of our profession and highlight how inclusive engineering is, with people from all backgrounds being a part of it.

Influencing people’s perceptions from a young age is one way we want to encourage our next generation of engineers. To do this, we joined forces with over 150 world-leading engineers, scientists and technologists to send an open letter to the UK Government.

Led by Professor Danielle George MBE, our Immediate Past President and Engineering Kids’ Futures ambassador, we appealed to the UK Government to work together with educators and industry to develop practical support for teachers of our youngest children and embed engineering in their existing STEM learning.

I was recently in discussion with a Head Teacher from an Academy school in Nottinghamshire where they are already teaching engineering.

We’d like to hear more examples of where engineering is being taught in schools so we can share the learning.

Please join the conversation on our new community website – IET EngX 

As you can see, the IET is making significant steps to inspire, inform and influence people about our profession. 2022 will be another year towards delivering on our vision of working to engineer a better world and embedding the IET Strategy 2030.

While next January might be an uncertain time due to the ongoing pandemic, I believe we should always be positive in life.

The upcoming year holds many exciting things on the IET programme of activities across the globe for us to look forward to.

For me, I am looking forward to returning to our newly refurbished Stevenage Office in the UK, which will provide a wonderful platform to do even greater things to support our members, customers and wider society.

As we come to the end of the year, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support and commitment to the IET and to wish you and your family, Season’s Greetings and all best wishes for 2022.

Nigel Fine

Chief Executive and Secretary