With the pandemic negatively affecting employment prospects for young people, experts are calling for more early careers engagement from industry to help tackle the growing engineering skills gap.
According to recent research commissioned by BAE Systems, more than 40 per cent of young people aged 16-24 are putting their career or education plans on hold until the COVID-19 crisis is over.
Around one in five (21 per cent) also said that the pandemic had made them more confused about their career path because of the impact on employment prospects.
Half of young people (51 per cent) are now placing more importance on their career as a result of the pandemic. Notably, nearly two thirds (63 per cent) said they have considered or would consider taking an apprenticeship.
At the same time, research from the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has found that a third of engineering companies are still looking to recruit to fill skills gaps.
The IET has called on more companies to work with schools to show young people that apprenticeships, particularly in manufacturing and engineering, are a great career choice.
Stephanie Baxter, Skills and Education Lead at the IET, said:
“We need to start changing people’s mindset – apprenticeships hold no lesser value than other traditional academic routes and should be considered as equal. We need schools, parents and businesses to collectively push this message to encourage uptake.”
Richard Hamer, Education and Skills Director at BAE Systems, echoed the same sentiment:
“It’s important that those of us who can, must continue to create new opportunities for young people, working hand in hand with the government and wider industry, to make available options known to young people.
“Apprenticeships play a significant role, providing people with the necessary skills to work in highly specialised and technical industries. Through on-the-job learning of practical skills, the opportunity to work alongside industry professionals and the provision of support at every step of their training, apprenticeships can offer an entry into a long-term and successful career.”
To help organisations increase their engagement with young people, EngineeringUK has launched Tomorrow’s Engineers, a website that provides free advice and guidance from across the engineering community on ways to inspire young people and improve outreach activities.