The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has invited a group of school children to join its new Junior Board, in a groundbreaking move to tackle the engineering shortage by encouraging input and ideas from the potential engineers of tomorrow.
The IET recently brought together its Junior Board and Trustees in an inaugural meeting to discuss skill shortages in the sector, and how best to make careers in the industry appeal to young minds.
Nine children took part in the meeting, aged 12 to 17, all with a passionate interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Each child brought a selection of ideas with them to open up the discussion to fresh, critical thinking, and a modern outlook.
Some of the ideas discussed included putting courses on for parents to give them more information about the exciting careers available in the industry for their children, teaching young people about historic female engineers as well as their male counterparts, and the need to position the industry as ‘cool’ in the media in order to encourage children to engage with it.
The IET Junior Board meeting took place at the IET’s iconic Savoy Place headquarters in London and also involved six Trustees, who were present in order to help steer the meeting and form the list of agreed outcomes from the meeting, which were:
Identify and work with celebrities who both parents and young people respect – and who have inspiring STEM skills – to showcase the career options available to young people
Create a web platform showcasing a range of engineering-related experiments young people and parents can do at home (e.g. Lego)
Launch a visual social media campaign that shows incredible and inspirational pictures of engineering feats and careers
Highlight the importance of 3D printers and how transformative they are becoming - there could be a school competition to design something with one
Put on information events for parents only to showcase real, local engineering companies and the careers they offer
Offer coding workshops and YouTube how-to videos showcasing areas of engineering and technologies like BBC Micro:Bit and Raspberry Pi
Welcoming the suggestions brought to the table from its junior influencers, the IET is calling on other historical STEM institutions to follow suit, and encourage fresh thinking from young STEM enthusiasts to help modernise and transform the industry – and sustain its economic prospects.
Thirteen year-old Daisy Agarwal, who took part in the IET Junior Board, said: "It was a really calm and easy environment to be in, everyone was really welcoming. It was great that our ideas were taken on-board and it was interesting to see what the engineers do in their jobs too. It would be great to see our ideas put into practice to help encourage more people my age into engineering."
Naomi Climer, IET President, commented: “As an engineering institution with 145 years of history under its belt, we’ve taken a landmark step in establishing a Junior Board for young people to come together with experienced members of our Board of Trustees. Our industry continues to suffer from skill shortages, so it’s vital that we do as much as possible to inspire the young people of today – the next generation of would-be engineers – into careers in the sector.
“By listening to, and taking on board, young people’s ideas for modernisation and progression within the sector, we’re opening ourselves up to new approaches in the way we present engineering careers to the next generation and their parents. This could prove really valuable in challenging outdated perceptions of engineering, and inspiring more children to become engineers in the future.”
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