An initiative to encourage more students to choose engineering-related degrees has been launched with the aim of reversing the decline which saw the number of electrical engineering students drop by 45% between 2001 and 2006. The E3 Academy also hopes to reduce the number of engineering graduates who go on to pursue other careers.
The E3 Academy has been created with support from industrial companies including Siemens Automation & Drives, Control Techniques, Parker SSD and Converteam, as well as Newcastle and Nottingham Universities. Students accepted as part of the Academy intake will enjoy a support package during their years of study and beyond, including an annual bursary of £2,500, paid summer training, and reimbursement of their tuition fees after graduation.
The keynote speech at the launch of the Academy was given by Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, (above), who said that a recent CBI survey had shown that more than 75% of engineering companies expect a shortfall in recruitment this year and that they are increasingly recruiting internationally to fill this gap.
The skills shortage, he said, "not only puts a risk on the economy and established businesses, but it makes the UK less attractive for inward investment".
But Lambert put part of the blame on employers. "It is up to companies to help generate the supply," he said. "The companies are good at hiring, but not at keeping and retaining these staff. This is the reason that I welcome initiatives such as the E3 Academy in trying to attract and retain more graduates."
The Academy, he said, "is not the solution, but it is a start in the right direction".