Transcript of speech given by Professor John Perkins CBE at the House of Lords on the 9th May 2019 at the Launch of The Institution of Primary Engineers and the Institution of Secondary Engineers.
In 2013, while CSA in BIS, I was asked by the then Secretary of State, (Sir) Vince Cable, to investigate the demand for, and supply of, engineers in the UK.
The conclusion I arrived at was that it would benefit the UK economy, as well as enhancing social mobility, to increase substantially the supply of engineers in the UK.
The supply system in 2013 was far from ideal, with a lack of knowledge and visibility of engineering in the school curriculum, and a huge number (800-1000?) of outreach and engagement initiatives seeking to enthuse young people about STEM subjects.
Unfortunately, as well as a lack of co-ordination (historically) of these worthy efforts, many of these initiatives do not demonstrate an ability to work at a truly national scale.
Despite evidence that young people’s opinions on future careers are being formed from an early age, the vast majority of engagement initiatives are targeted at secondary school level.
Primary Engineer is one of the few exceptions here. From Scotland to the Channel Islands, Primary Engineer regularly conducts engaging events which together every year involve 10s of thousands of young people from a very early age, their teachers and parents.
Today, we are here to mark the national launch of a new, and truly innovative, scheme from Primary Engineer – engineering institutions for young people from primary school upwards mirroring the professional bodies which support practising engineers in their profession.
We shall hear more about this exciting initiative from some of the pioneers later. The goal is to identify, nurture and create the engineers of the future, starting with engaging with them from a young age with an emphasis on continuity of support.
One of the key messages about more effective promotion of engineering as a career is the need for strong and effective collaboration – between the profession, industry, government, and educators. Primary Engineer has been successful in the past through effective collaboration, and the engagement of practising engineers and their employers in its activities.
It is great to see so many organisations represented here today. I know that many of you have been strong supporters of Primary Engineer. Long may your support continue, so that together we can make a huge success of the Institutions of Primary and Secondary Engineers!