As we continue our look at the importance of linking education to employers, I found an interesting article with specific reference to the skills shortage in the construction industry which struck me as mirroring some of the issues we see in advanced engineering linked to the automotive industry.
Participants in a recent study reported on by The Edge Foundation indicated the most significant cause in the failure to attract and train the younger generation as the most significant cause of these skills shortages.
Along with the poor image of these industries, especially the preconception (still) that they are ‘for boys’, a lack of apprenticeships and an ageing workforce especially in construction are the main reasons why the construction industry is suffering the worst skills shortage ever known. This research has also established that jobs in construction are not aspirational for youngsters, and this is the main reason they are put off from the industry. Along with confirmation from the Construction Industry Training Board and the Department for Education that apprenticeship numbers are dwindling, this paints a rather worrying picture when we are considering the breadth of the skills gap.
The Automotive 30% Club Inspiration for Innovation Network sponsored by CDK Global and in partnership with MEPC, Silverstone Park has endeavoured to shine a light on the opportunities within advanced engineering and automotive via our Inspiration for Innovation Network. It was clear to us that the vast expansion taking place at Silverstone Park was a prime example of current and future job opportunities for our future generation.
As a result of the partner sponsorship by MEPC, Silverstone Park, Julia Muir CEO, Gaia Innovation and founder of the Automotive 30% Club is leading a series of workshops for a group of construction companies linked to projects on Silverstone Park. In these sessions Julia will be sharing the learnings from the Automotive 30% Club to encourage those companies to develop plans to become more inclusive and engage in schools outreach activities in a similar vein to the activities carried out by the Inspiration for Innovation Network volunteers.
By raising awareness of these job opportunities via our engaging online sessions for schools, delivered by our ‘real model’ volunteers, these industries are brought alive for the students and the practical application of education is easily translated for them so that they realise ‘they can be it, if they can see it’. It’s no easy sell to get the students interested in these types of jobs, which they perceive to be manually loaded, dirty and not very glamorous, but once you show them that actually both women and men can do these jobs and many of the positions are driven by technology and often heavily office based, with the opportunity to ‘get dirty boots’ on occasion or by choice, they soon pay attention to the earning potential and the career options.
The potential to engage our young generation to be motivated, inspired and forward-thinking in regard to the construction and automotive industries does exist. With the help of employers such as MEPC, Silverstone Park and their links with these businesses, educational establishments can be supported to bring this vital knowledge into the classroom.
These industries are attempting to alleviate the skills shortage by enhancing education and training, placing more emphasis on attracting women and ethnic minorities and investing in technology, but it seems that there is still a lot to be done to change perceptions at an early age and to tackle the gender bias that still exists. Julia looks forward to delivering the workshops online into 2021, and to help project the automotive,advanced engineering and construction industries as employers of choice for our next generation.
Article by – Danielle Humphreys, Inspiration for Innovation Network Manager