Engineering bodies reach out to a new generation

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School leavers and other young people are being urged to consider engineering careers as the UK employment market enters uncharted territory.

Actuate UK, a group of eight trade, technology and professional bodies representing engineering services professions, is spearheading a campaign to encourage more young people to take up the many job opportunities emerging in a sector that offers the chance to tackle the climate crisis and provide better living and working conditions for their communities.

According to the government's latest figures, there were more than half a million young people unemployed in May, with thousands more now joining the jobs market this summer.

While some industries are struggling to recover from the pandemic, the engineering services sector is bouncing back strongly and actively seeking new recruits. It is at the forefront of efforts to tackle the climate crisis and to improve living and working environments at a time when people are starting to return to offices and public buildings.

One employer in engineering services said, “With over 200,000 redundancies and over 9 million workers on furlough at the height of the lockdowns [December 2020 data], young people want to make informed decisions about how to take the next step and find rewarding, challenging and fulfilling jobs.”

There are a wide range of apprenticeships linked to engineering professions and at different levels including Degree level apprenticeships. They cover a variety of professions in the electrical, plumbing, lift, heating, ventilating, air conditioning, building services design and building services engineering industry. The Scottish electrical employers' body SELECT says it has seen a record intake of 738 apprentices so far this year, with many motivated by the long-term job prospects on offer. Many are deciding to learn a trade rather than follow a more traditional further education route.

"Young people are very aware of the world around them, and they can see the direction of travel as far as desirable skills and qualifications are concerned," said Fiona Harper, director of employment and skills at SELECT.

"Prominent among them is acceptance that the future will be driven by renewable electricity rather than fossil fuels. From electric vehicles and battery storage to heat pumps and the Internet of Things, more youngsters realise that the complexities of modern electrotechnology will put electricians in pole position in the employment market."

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