Are young engineers losing out on options due to lack of practical skills?

The age-old problem of young people not being prepared for the challenges of the modern-day working world has always been persistent and invariable. Engineering graduates come prepared with theoretical knowledge but lack practical skills that make them employable.

Engineering firms are quickly realising that the need for engineering students to gain practical skills is becoming more important than ever before. It has been observed that a mix of apprenticeships, vocational training and on-the-job experience has not been helpful in resolving the problem. The need to understand the difference between teaching and training needs to be established in order to build a stronger and more productive workforce.

Some firms in South Yorkshire with the help of the Government and Sheffield University have set up a facility that is a hub for engineering education and career development at every stage of the working life. Attached to the University’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), the centre has just begun training 150 advanced apprentices but plans to develop itself into a regional centre for engineering courses.

Other programmes offered at the centre include apprenticeships in business administration and technical sales. The centre intends to run graduate training programmes that will bring recently employed university leavers up to speed with practical engineering requirements. This facility is an all-inclusive learning centre for school programmes, foundation, bachelor degrees and industrial doctorates.

The AMRC has set a trend for other universities and engineering firms to follow. It will help to bring the much-needed prestige to the engineering and apprenticeship programmes. The AMRC facility has backing from global businesses and links to world-class engineering firms. The training centre has been funded from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund which pumped in £12.5 million for this facility.

The quality of the Training Centre is already getting rave reviews. The facilities and the staff are all there to give this centre the support it needs to become one of best learning facilities in the country. Based in a new 5,500m2 building, the AMRC is one of seven centres in the High Value Manufacturing Catapult in Sheffield. Replicating a similar model will make serious contribution to the creation of a new generation of highly skilled engineers and will hopefully eliminate the shortage of home-grown engineering talent in the country.

AMRC is a good example of what can be achieved by bringing the industry expertise, the educators and the Government together on a project of this nature to encourage young engineers to acquire practical skills needed to be successful in the current job market.

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