From education to employment

Championing engineering apprentices

Good money, lots of variety, the chance to be part of a renowned group of professionals and always in demand – what’s not to like about a career in engineering?

Engineering and technology may not be the easiest areas of study, but they’re subjects that offer a vast range of creative and exciting opportunities across a wide range of industries. And, because they’re challenging, those studying them go on to have rewarding and stimulating careers.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is working to engineer a better world by inspiring the next generation to become engineers and technicians. We want to showcase engineering as an exciting and varied career path.

We are huge advocates of, and have made a particular commitment to, apprentices. As an engineering apprentice young people can be involved in aeronautical or electronics engineering, understanding and building the latest technological gadgets, building and repairing ships, even maintaining the lifts that take us up to the highest places on earth. It really does encompass so many areas, including power, transport, marine, defence and IT.

Our approved apprenticeship scheme sees us working with companies to provide assurance that their training is delivered to the internationally-recognised UK-SPEC – the competence and commitment required for registration as an Engineering Technician (EngTech), ICT Technician (ICTTech), Incorporated Engineer (IEng) or Chartered Engineer (CEng). This endorsement of quality is granted only after IET assessors have been satisfied that the highest standard has been achieved in: support, experience, development, planning and assessment methods. Examples include schemes run by Arup, BT, Gatwick Airport, GCHQ, National Grid, Network Rail, Siemens and Wessex Water.

Celebrating the successes of engineering apprentices so that they can become role models for young people is also very important. The annual IET Apprentice and Technician of the Year Awards, which are now open for entry until 27th May, mark the achievements of apprentices and technicians in the engineering profession. The apprentice award is for apprentices who are on at least a second year of an IET Approved Apprenticeship scheme. The technician award is open to technicians from around the world who have registered as EngTech or ICTTech within the last two years. We welcome entries from, or for, EngTech or ICTTech technicians from the FE support sector.

The awards have been established to recognise individuals’ exceptional commitment to engineering and technology through their technical or professional development. The candidates will be judged on their engineering and technical knowledge and ability as well as their efforts in promoting engineering, whether in schools, through volunteer work or as role models for the sector. Alongside a winner’s trophy, there is a cash prize of £1,000 for the winner and two years free membership of the IET.

We also recognise there is an urgent national need to recruit budding engineers from disadvantaged backgrounds. That’s why we’ve launched a major new bursary scheme aimed at ensuring young people who have overcome obstacles or personal challenges get their opportunity to pursue their passion for engineering.

Our Engineering Horizons prize will be awarded to apprentices and students who have been accepted on to an IET Accredited degree course in the UK with vocational qualifications, or the first year of an IET Approved Apprenticeship scheme. The winners will each receive an annual award of £1,000 per year for the duration of their degree course (up to three years for BEng and four years for MEng) or apprenticeship (up to four years). They will also gain free membership of the IET for the duration of their course or apprenticeship. Bursary winners will become ambassadors for the IET and engineering.

These new awards will ensure that personal circumstances aren’t a barrier for new talent entering the profession, whether that is at student or apprentice level. This is a clear message that a career as an engineer or technician is a choice for anyone regardless of their background, gender, financial or home life.

It is important that this is not just a numbers game though. Quality must be the focus of our efforts. Over recent years there has been a very welcome doubling of Intermediate Apprenticeships (Level 2) but it is absolutely critical that the number of Higher Apprenticeships (Level 4) also increases in line with this to support the development of high-level skills.

[email protected]

Related Articles