Last edited 15 Mar 2017

Perkins review of engineering skills


[edit] Introduction

Professor John Perkins’ Review of engineering skills was published in November 2013. It was prepared by Professor John Perkins, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The review suggests that despite the UK’s enviable track record in engineering, there is now a shortage of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) professionals and graduates and argues that increasing the number of engineers would help the UK economy. It highlights the increasing need for engineers as a result of growth and rebalancing of the economy and identifies structural and behavioural barriers to the ‘talent pipeline’.

In particular the review focusses on:

  • The poor perception people have of the engineering profession.
  • The low percentage of female engineering professionals compared to other EU countries.
  • The inflexible and unresponsive education system.
  • Poor retention of trained engineers.
  • The need for engagement of the industry.

Perkins suggests that, “Under any plausible scenario for our future growth, new technology is likely to drive greater demand for higher, technical skills.”

He goes on to write, “If we are going to secure the flow of talent into engineering, we need to start at the very beginning. We need young people who are technically and academically competent, but who are also inspired by the possibilities of engineering. Starting to inspire people at 16 years old is too late; choices are made, and options are closed off well before then. So we need purposeful and effective early intervention to enthuse tomorrow’s engineers.”

The review includes 22 recommendations, 15 pf which require engagement of industry, the profession and the education sector:

[edit] Short term

[edit] Inspiration

[edit] Academic Foundations

[edit] Vocational Education

[edit] Higher education

  • 17. Government should review funding arrangements for engineering degree courses to ensure that it is financially sustainable for HE institutions to deliver high quality engineering programmes.
  • 18. Government should ensure that the £200 million teaching capital fund encourages diversity by seeking evidence of commitment (e.g. through Athena SWAN registration) as a prerequisite for receiving funding.
  • 19. HE institutions should work with Government and commercial banks to ensure their students are aware of Professional Career Development Loans.
  • 20. The engineering community should develop concerted engagement with university students, including work placements to raise the profile of engineering careers and ensure that students on every campus are aware of the full range of diverse opportunities with engineering employers, large and small.
  • 21. Engineering employers should explore the potential for developing cooperative cross-sector schemes to support postgraduate students.
  • 22. Government, through EPSRC, should seek further evidence of unsatisfied demand for engineers trained to doctoral level, and review arrangements for the support of PhD students in the light of their findings.

NB The review coincided with Tomorrow’s Engineers Week between 4 and 8 November 2013, during which a survey was undertaken: Attitudes to engineering: before and after Tomorrow's Engineers Week 2013.

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