Diversity and skills at stake in cross-government engineering campaign

Tackling a major shortage of skilled engineers and a lack of diversity in the industry is the aim of a cross-governmental campaign to boost the profile of engineering among young people, parents and teachers.

The Year of Engineering 2018: Being promoted across government departments
The Year of Engineering 2018: Being promoted across government departments

The Department for Transport (DfT), Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are collaborating on the Year of Engineering campaign, which will launch in January 2018. 

The aim is to address the estimated shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates each year, and diversify a workforce that is 92 per cent male and 94 per cent white.

Jo Parry, head of Year of Engineering comms, told PRWeek: "Careers in engineering offer variety, good benefits and the chance to really make a difference, but the profession faces a major shortage of skilled engineers and lack of diversity in its workforce.

"We know that lots is already being done across the industry to tackle this, but there’s still a long way to go." 

The Year of Engineering campaign is based on bringing direct experiences of the industry to young people aged seven to 16, as well as their parents and teachers. 

Activities will include large-sale outreach programmes, such as a £1m investment from Shell in the interactive Tomorrow’s Engineers Energy Quest programme for thousands of schoolchildren, a children’s book on engineering from publisher Usborne, and behind the scenes tours for families.

More than 350 partners have already signed up to support the campaign and deliver direct experiences of engineering to young people next year, after being recruited through stakeholder engagement, leaflets, a dedicated website and promotional video, social media including Twitter, and trade media coverage. 

A dedicated Year of Engineering Twitter account using the handle @YoEgovuk is now up and running, and the campaign is encouraging use of the hashtag #inspireanengineer and #YOE to share stories that challenge perceptions of engineering. 

Parry said that the direct experiences element of the campaign would give young people a chance to "take a closer look at the modern face of engineering and meet role models from all backgrounds, challenging outdated perceptions of a widely misunderstood profession".  

"As well as supporting this activity through toolkits, PR, social media and a one-stop website for parents and teachers, we are excited to be working with a number of well-known brands that will help us showcase the variety and creativity of the sector and shine a light on engineering jobs in places young people would least expect them," added Parry.

"We are keen to encourage more organisations from all sectors to find out how they could support the campaign."

A further 300 organisations have this month (November) registered their interest in taking part in the campaign. 

A campaign website will promote opportunities to take part in the experiences, alongside learning materials and help for parents and teachers to understand engineering and the routes into the profession. 

Meanwhile, an integrated PR, digital and stakeholder engagement strategy aims to generate awareness of and engagement with the campaign and drive a national dialogue about modern engineering.

Evaluation will be carried out with professional association Engineering UK to measure the impact of the campaign on attitudes towards an understanding of engineering among young people, their parents and their teachers.

The Year of Engineering campaign is working with partnership and digital marketing agency 23Red to develop a partnership strategy, co-create new content and co-ordinate partner activity.

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