More Leaders and Fewer Initiatives: Key Ideas for the Future of Engineering 2015-01-0411
Panel Discussions held at the SAE World Congress in both 2013 and 2014 observed that a shortage of good quality engineering talent formed a chronic and major challenge. (“Good quality” refers to applicants that would be shortlisted for interview.) While doubts have been expressed in some quarters, the shortage is confirmed by automotive sector employers and the Panel's view was that it was symptomatic of a range of issues, all of which have some bearing on the future of the profession.
Initiatives to improve recruitment and retention have had varying degrees of success. Efforts need to be intensified in primary schools where negative perceptions develop and deepen. Schemes like AWIM that operate on a large scale and are designed to supplement school curricula should operate at an international level. Universities represent the entry point into the engineering profession and their role in the recruitment process as well as education and training is crucial. The historical role of training for research, must live alongside the need for the development of professional knowledge and skills.
Employers provide the crucial next step by offering the challenging and stimulating environment that reinforces a positive image of the profession. Employers and universities can define and realise the set of attributes and skills that define the profession: a dialogue is vital, and a recognition that the rate of change in the engineering process brings substantial challenges to the management of the profession itself.
Actions arising from the discussion include a call for the dialogue between employers and universities; and for university engineering departments to step up to a new role to pay particular attention to providing role models and conveying the values and potential of engineering.