Pipe up, by Julie Nugent
“Design and technology offers students practical ways to nurture their enthusiasm for careers in engineering.”
The utilities sector faces a significant skills challenge – with an estimated 221,000 new recruits needed in the next decade alone. At the same time, bodies such as the CBI point to the growing mismatch between skills supply and demand, with increasing numbers of employers claiming this is the major threat to their future competitiveness.
The government’s recent green paper, Building our Industrial Strategy, sets out an ambitious plan to improve economic competitiveness by creating the conditions for this growth. Developing skills is one of the ten pillars identified as essential to underpinning this growth, with an emphasis on more technical education, more apprenticeships and a more responsive training and education system.
Many businesses already recognise the increased competition they face for new skilled entrants. More and more employers are engaging early with schools to develop their future talent pipelines. Engagement strategies vary: anything from employees attending school careers evenings to comprehensive engagement programmes, where employers actively influence the curriculum and the development of softer skills such as team-building and leadership.
The Design and Technology Association welcomes such productive partnerships between education and industry. We work with more than 11,000 members from schools, universities and employers, to promote high-quality technical education – particularly in design, engineering and technology.
Design and technology is the study of how to think, develop and make a better world: innovating new products, services and experiences from design concept through to manufacture and use. The subject encompasses the principles of design, maths and science and applies them to a practical purpose in the real world. It includes design, electronics, engineering, textiles, computing and digital technologies such as robotics, CAD, CAM, 3D printing and laser cutting.
Design and technology is already part of the national curriculum. For many students, it offers practical ways to engage with the world of work, nurturing their enthusiasm for careers in engineering. For employers looking to engage meaningfully with schools, design and technology can provide a route in to informing the technical skills and work-ready attitudes they want from their future employees.
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