Engineering institutions are being urged to adapt to better serve the diverse and rapidly changing profession they represent.
A new report from Engineering the Future, an alliance of leading engineering organisations, called The Universe of Engineering says the profession needs to shed the image of hard hats and hi-vis jackets and embrace the increasingly diverse range of fields that require engineering skills such as brain imaging, airport security, drug delivery systems, materials science and prosthetic limbs.
According to official figures roughly 2.7 million people declare themselves as engineers, with about half in technician-level jobs, but according to Engineering the Future’s analysis of the data there are a further 1.6m people with engineering qualifications using their skills in the wider economy.
In its ‘call to action,’ The Universe of Engineering urges the professional engineering institutions to adapt so that they better represent and develop engineers involved in these rapidly developing fields, and use this as a springboard to attract more people into the profession.
Dame Sue Ion, chair of the working group that produced the report, said: “As engineers underpin an increasing number of different parts of the economy and society, the engineering community and professional engineering institutions must adapt to represent and support those in both traditional and non-traditional engineering roles.
“The engineering profession now has a critical opportunity to identify and put into place a framework for the new model of engineering, with its increasing inter-disciplinarity and pervasive reach.”
As well as attempting to rebrand the profession, the report calls on the institutions to cast their nets wider to bring people not traditionally considered as engineers into the profession and develop them at all levels from apprentice to chartered engineer
Work with government to improve careers guidance to better reflect the professions will also be important, according to the report, as well as improving opportunities in engineering for women and those from under-represented social and ethnic groups.
The authors also warn that the institutions should prepare for the impending increases in apprenticeships and vocational training routes into engineering by providing opportunities for registration and progression, while working with educators to ensure industrially experienced engineers provide contextualised learning.
The report also calls for government departments to make better use of the independent engineering advice provided by the professional engineering community as well as leading by example by ensuring that, as a major employer, the engineers it employs are registered.