A new private sector initiative boost British engineering has been launched at the BETT education and technology fair in London.
The Elite Engineering Programme, announced yesterday afternoon, aims to boost the number of talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds following careers in engineering, by reaching out to young people in state schools from the age of 10.
The programme was created in response to research published last year by the Royal Academy of Engineering RAEng, which found that the UK needs to increase by around 50 per cent per year the number of science, technology, engineering and maths graduates.
Matthew Harrison, Director of Engineering and Education at RAEng, which is overseeing the delivery of the programme, said: “Engineering enterprise is vital for economic and social wellbeing.
“The Elite Engineering Programme will help break down the barriers to becoming an engineer and search in all sectors of society for the best engineering talent to help maintain this country’s pre-eminence.”
British entrepreneur Professor Anthony Purnell, a visiting professor of engineering at Cambridge and part of the founding partnership, said: “I’m concerned that our brightest young people could be put off a career in engineering by the cost of university education. That would be tragic. The Elite Engineering Programme was created to stop that happening.”
The scheme is working in partnership with LEGO Education UK & Ireland and the Royal Academy of Engineering and is funded by the Helsington Foundation.
As part of the programme LEGO Education will provide schools with LEGO® MINDSTORMS® Education sets and lesson plans designed to complement the curriculum to nurture an interest in engineering through competitions in state schools from age 12.
The scheme also hopes to provide University Scholarships, industry based internships and a fund to support UK university teams taking part in innovative competitions, such as Formula Student.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Engineering is fundamental to our economic progress, so it's critical we ensure there are sufficient engineers to meet future demand.
"The Elite Engineering Programme is a good example of British businesses working together for the good of disadvantaged young people and the UK and I commend their commitment and leadership here."
"We are working closely with industry and continue to look at various ways to support engineering at all levels, such as engagement in schools, apprenticeships and postgraduate training including Engineering Doctorates."