Geotechnical engineers are being encouraged to promote their work to kick off the Year of Engineering.
The year-long campaign to transform the way young people see engineering has been launched in a bid to boost numbers entering the profession and will see a national drive to inspire the young people who will shape the future.
British Geotechnical Association chairman Martin Preene believes that this is a great opportunity for the sector to make itself heard, although it might need to focus to ensure the communitcation is effective.
”I think a key challenge for the geotechnical profession is to communicate better with, and hence influence, the decision makers, be it at government level or at project level. Within our industry we have a great understanding of risk and uncertainty - it’s unavoidable when we deal with geology every day and have to deliver projects out in the rain, wind and snow. But historically we have struggled to get clients and projects to invest, first of all, in adequate ground investigations, and later in projects to take a realistic attitude to below ground construction risks.
“I’ve been in the geotechnical industry for more than 30 years, and this problem is still around. There were reports produced in the 1990s by the ICE and the Site Investigation Steering Group on the need for better planned and resourced ground investigations, but we are still having the same conversations nearly three decades later,” Preene warned.
Engineering is one of the most productive sectors in the UK, but has a shortfall of 20,000 engineering graduates every year. There is also widespread misunderstanding of engineering among young people and their parents and a lack of diversity in the sector – the workforce is 91% male and 94% white.
The new campaign is aimed at filling those gaps and changing misconceptions, and will see government and around 1,000 partners deliver over a million experiences of engineering for young people, parents and teachers.
”Unfortunately, I don’t think there are any quick fixes, but the industry can help by doing the basics right: professional bodies need to promote our specialism and develop credible and attractive qualification and registration routes (for field staff as well as designers and managers); Industry firms need to invest in training and innovation to collectively raise standards,” added Preene.
Secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling said of the launch that engineers “are vital to the lifeblood of our economy”.
He added: “We want to show young people and their parents the immense creativity, opportunity and value of the profession. By bringing them face to face with engineering role models and achievements we can send a clear message that engineering careers are a chance for all young people, regardless of gender, ethnicity or social background, to shape the future of this country and have a real impact on the lives of those around them.”
For more information about the campiagn visit Year of the Engineer.