From education to employment

The Royal Academy of Engineering calls on engineering community to show young people how they can ‘Be the difference’

Photo credit © Rolls-Royce PLC

#BeTheDifference @ThisIsEng ineering Day 2020 @_EngineeringUK 

This is Engineering is a campaign to raise awareness of the breadth of careers in engineering and help address the significant engineering skills and diversity shortfall that is holding back growth and productivity across the UK economy. The campaign aims to give more young people, from the broadest possible backgrounds, the opportunity to take up an exciting, engaging, rewarding and in demand career.

The This is Engineering campaign is having impact – before the campaign launched in January 2018 39% of young people surveyed aged 11-19 said they would consider a career in engineering but by the end of 2019 this had risen to 60% among those had seen the campaign videos.

The Royal Academy of Engineering has today (4 Mar) announced that it plans to lead a second This is Engineering Day on Wednesday 4 November 2020 to celebrate the engineers and engineering shaping our everyday lives and the world around us. Working with EngineeringUK and partners across the profession, the initiative is central to the Academy’s This is Engineering campaign to give more young people, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to take up engineering careers. This is Engineering Day will form a key part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week 2020.

This is Engineering Day 2020 will be themed ‘Be the difference’ and engineering companies, organisations and individual engineers are all invited to get involved and think of ways in which they can showcase how engineers make a difference – online, on social media or via events and engagement activities.

To coincide with the first UN World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, a new season of This is Engineering films launched today on social media, focusing on nine real-life engineering heroes whose work helps make a difference in the world. From mitigating flooding and addressing climate change to making farming easier and improving healthcare, they show young people how they can ‘Be the difference’ if they choose engineering as a career, no matter what subjects they enjoy at school.

Many of the emerging and in-demand jobs identified by the World Economic Forum are engineering jobs, yet every year the UK is short of up to 59,000 engineers, while only 12% of the engineering workforce in the UK are female, and 9% are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. But the narrow image of an engineer is reinforced online by endless pictures of white men in hard hats. These images often lack diversity, both in the faces of the people and in the disciplines of engineering represented, and there is evidence that it is deterring the next generation from joining the profession.

A key objective of the first This is Engineering Day on 6 November 2019 was to change the stereotypical image of engineers, and the Academy set up a free public image library on flickr for media, photo, advertising agencies and the general public to view and use in projects, articles, campaigns and on social media.

Highlights of This is Engineering Day 2019 included:

  • Over 130 organisations, including the BBC, ITV and Facebook, signed a pledge to increase the public visibility of more representative images of engineers and engineering.
  • Amazon Alexa was programmed to answer questions about This is Engineering Day and the role of engineers, and Amazon ran engineering-focused tours of its fulfilment centres
  • Network Rail showcased images of early career engineers on 60 screens across 15 stations in the UK, and across the Virgin train network
  • Facebook created and promoted new engineering video content featuring their engineers
  • Celebrities including F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton, author and present Konnie Huq, astronaut Tim Peake and Great British Bakeoff finalist Andrew Smyth marked the day on social media, helping #ThisisEngineering reach over 12 million people on 6 November alone

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says:

“As young people prepare to take their key exams and think about career choices, it’s vital that they don’t miss out on opportunities to ‘Be the Difference’ though engineering just because they don’t realise what engineering careers really offer. On World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development we want to highlight the great work that engineers are doing in the UK and all over the world to address the sustainable development goals and to make life better for everyone.

“More than 150 engineering companies and organisations across the UK have so far pledged to help the Academy to show a different, diverse and surprising image of the profession. Today we’re calling for even more partners to join our This is Engineering campaign and celebrate This is Engineering Day on 4 November 2020 as we continue our work to transform the image of engineering so that many more talented young people from all backgrounds can see a future for themselves in this vital and rewarding profession.”

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