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Children are the key to solving the UK’s Productivity Puzzle
Recent figures suggest that this has been Britain’s worst decade for productivity for over 200 years. This can be attributed, in part, to the ongoing skills shortage; Engineering UK estimates that 1.8m more technicians and engineers will be required by 2025 to meet industry needs.
Nevertheless, hope is on the horizon, and Birmingham engineering firm adi Group thinks it lies in primary and secondary schools across the country. CEO, Alan Lusty, believes that teaching children of all ages practical engineering skills through ‘pre-apprenticeship’ schemes will help to grow the next generation of qualified engineers:
“It’s no secret that UK industry is struggling to recruit the home-grown talent it needs to compete in an increasingly globalised world. Technology has changed the face of engineering immensely; fully automated production lines and other high-tech devices are now commonplace in many manufacturing environments.
“Those of us who work in the industry know how cutting-edge and exciting it is, but this message sometimes gets lost in translation. Add to this the fact that it can be a struggle to find quality work experience – a quarter of UK firms have never considered recruiting an apprentice2 – and it’s easy to see why today’s young people aren’t being pushed in the right direction.
“This is why businesses and schools must work together to offer practical training from an early age. Children are naturally curious, and if we harness this instinct early on we can instil an appetite for engineering in them that will influence their choices in later life.
“We believe the pre-apprenticeship model we currently offer at our Kings Norton HQ provides a useful framework for companies wanting to support this initiative. Through a structured and accredited course, the pre-apprentices learn the practical, hands-on skills needed to carve a career in either mechanical or electrical engineering. These include welding, basic wiring, health and safety and reading technical drawings.
“The first intake of 12 students was in September 2016 and, due to its success, we rolled it out to another Year 10 class last month. Our long-term goal is to establish schemes for children younger than this for maximum impact.
“There is no short-term solution to the skills gap or low levels of productivity, but if we can educate children and get them excited about a career in engineering, we will make considerable progress in growing the workforce.”