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Help to win over future engineers at an early age

20 December, 2022

There’s strong evidence that the best time to attract people into future careers in engineering is when they are very young. Nikesh Mistry*, Gambica’s sector head for automation, argues that practicing engineers and automation specialists can play a key role in helping to persuade youngsters to follow similar careers.

Life brings much uncertainty, and few guarantees. We’ve are living through a great deal of uncertainty at present, from our economy, to political unrest, the global pandemic and the cost of living crisis. If we have the opportunity to try to do anything with a certain outcome, now is the time. And while there may not be many opportunities, one area where we can try to focus on is our career(s) and job stability within Stem – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The focus on hands-on learning with real-world applications in Stem-based employment helps to develop a variety of skillsets, including creativity and 21st-century skills.

Today’s younger generations are used to getting everything yesterday. With services such as Netflix, Amazon, Deliveroo and Uber, waiting times have become minimal for products and services. That leads the future workforce to want to imitate that immediacy in their careers: if there is the opportunity for promotion, upskilling or training, there is a demand for that from an early stage in their careers. The importance of Stem in this area is more vital than ever.

Many Gambica members who work in automation have been able to demonstrate that it was indirectly the answer to the pandemic, in that companies turned to automation to boost their productivity and efficiency – or, at least, to maintain it – through the troubled times. The automation sector remained resilient with a strong upward trend in the market following the dip in mid-2020. This is a fine example of how our sector is becoming vital for future-proofing, and exactly why the younger generation must be made aware of this, hopefully increasing the attraction of Stem-based jobs to them.

As a Stem ambassador myself, I feel its importance needs to be sung loudly. It is hugely important to capture the minds of students from primary age because this is when their minds are most likely to be influenced about future careers. It needs to come from teachers, parents and peers.

Along with this, it must be stressed that Stem careers don’t just provide academic benefits, but also a career which delivers many transferable skills. Stem courses – especially those in technology and engineering – often involve hands-on projects. Building a simple robot, engine or computer program often involves multiple steps completed over several days. This, in turn, allows students to learn how to manage their time and break large projects into smaller steps. This is a skill that will help them throughout their lives, whether they are working on an office project or remodelling a home. And this is just one example.

We need to continue to stress the importance of Stem to our future workforce and (without wanting to sound like a broken record) we need to make sure the jobs and career paths in our industry are attractive and provide the youth with a sense of security. This needs to be demonstrated from the youngest age possible, not waiting until it’s too late.

To an extent, it’s all about perception. According to a recent survey by Gartner, 64% of IT professionals think that the skills shortage is the biggest barrier to adopting game-changing technologies such as AI. A recent Euris skills survey, which had input from Gambica members, confirms this, with one of the biggest difficulties being the recruitment of skilled staff.

The World Economic Forum predicts that nine

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