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Schools initiative aims to tackle engineering skills gap

24 October, 2014

Siemens has formed a partnership with the qualifications body OCR (Oxford Cambridge and RSA) to tackle the skills gap in UK engineering and manufacturing. They are developing joint education resources for 14-16 year olds and will deliver a curriculum for schools designed to increase the skills of prospective engineers.

The modules will provide teachers with a structured plan to teach a range of topics that will give children an understanding of how skills and knowledge link together in a working environment.

From this autumn, the programme, designed to inspire the next generation of engineers, will be available to every school in the country. It will focus on applying knowledge in areas such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics, to real-life projects.

For example, the programme includes a manufacturing module in which students will have to produce a model of a flywheel from a specification and then to develop a manufacturing plan to mass-produce it. Other modules will explore: energy recovery systems for vehicles; the design challenges of low-carbon homes; and the engineering principles of power networks.

“We will use real-life applications to explain the science and technology behind projects such as wind turbines, scanners and trains,” explains OCR chief executive, Mark Dawe. “We also look forward to engaging employers to use their expert knowledge to deliver education material directly to students.”

The new scheme has been developed in conjunction with the Cabinet Office, the Department of Education and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

“We need to tackle the skills problem urgently by creating new and innovative partnerships, which is what we have sought to achieve with OCR,” says Siemens’ HR director, Toby Peyton-Jones. “As a sector we must pull every lever to get the skills and talent pipeline moving again. It is vital for the future of young people, but also we know that a highly skilled economy also attracts inward investment, which is critical for sustainable growth.”

OCR provides qualifications for learners of all ages and abilities, including AS/A Levels, GCSEs, Cambridge Nationals, Cambridge Technicals, Entry Level qualifications, and vocational qualifications in areas such as IT, business, languages and administration skills. Each year more than three million students gain OCR qualifications, which are offered by 13,000 centres including schools, sixth form colleges, FE colleges, training providers and businesses from SMEs to multinationals.

Siemens is currently training 400 apprentices in the UK and recruits around 100 graduate trainees every year. In 2013, it launched the UK’s first engineering education and careers portal for schools, giving teachers, students and parents access to a central hub of information that encourages young people to engage with engineering- and manufacturing-related subjects The portal has been rolled out to 5,000 secondary schools across the UK, and aims to reach all schools including primaries by 2016.

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