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House of Commons Hansard
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Engineering Careers
29 January 2018
Volume 635
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11. What steps the Government are taking to encourage more young people to consider careers in engineering. [903586]

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15. What steps the Government are taking to encourage more young people to consider careers in engineering. [903590]

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The Year of Engineering, this year, is a cross-government national campaign to raise the profile of jobs in engineering for all young people. More than 980 partners have signed up to be part of the year, which includes workshops, toolkits for use in schools and site tours.

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Yes, but the Minister was seeking to group this question with number 15, from the hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Mrs Badenoch). Ministers seem a tad discombobulated this afternoon.

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Mr Speaker, my very sincere apologies. I believe I did that on another occasion too. I was answering questions 11 and 15 together.

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Students from Collyer’s in my constituency came first in the UK national robotics competition and proceeded to represent their country in Washington. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is exactly the kind of innovative initiative that gets people interested in STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—subjects and will persuade them to take them up as careers in later life?

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The national robotics competition must be the subject of young people’s dreams, and I do indeed congratulate Collyer’s. The £406 million put aside in the autumn Budget to improve skills—particularly STEM skills, including a maths premium for 16 to 19-year-olds —will also drive up the interest in engineering.

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I am an engineer, and I started my career as an apprentice. It is the year of engineering, but the industry is facing a shortfall of 20,000 places. Does the Minister agree with me that apprenticeships are a good, cost-effective way to study engineering, and if so, will she tell me what the Government are doing to promote them?

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They are an excellent way to study engineering, and I would point my hon. Friend to degree apprenticeships. The first graduates in digital and technology solutions graduated from Aston last year, as did those in quantity surveying from John Moores in Liverpool. We have put aside £10 million to help with the development of degree apprenticeships, which is a brilliant way for young people to get skills.

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Engineering is a fantastic career, as I know very well, but because there are so few women engineers—just 8%—it is much harder for girls in particular to see engineering role models. Will the Minister tell me who specifically is responsible for getting more engineers into schools to share their experience and more schools into engineering companies, and how is their success being measured?

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Some 980 partners have signed up, and I would point to the fact that my hon. Friend the Member for South Basildon and East Thurrock (Stephen Metcalfe) is the Government’s envoy for the year of engineering. It is absolutely critical: we are putting real money—I repeat, we are putting real money—into improving the teaching of maths for 16 to 19-year-olds. This is really important. As I said earlier, we are using further education colleges and local authorities to get engineering companies into schools to talk to children and teach them about the prospects that exist. For any young woman, I would point to the gender pay gap, which they will see is large in engineering organisations, so there is an opportunity out there.

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It is estimated that the UK will require 1.8 million additional engineers by 2025. The Scottish Government have published a STEM education and training strategy. Will the Secretary of State do something similarly concrete to encourage girls into engineering?

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There is a lot of concrete work going on. Going back to the apprenticeship levy, engineering companies with a pay bill of over £3 million are putting money aside—0.5% of their pay bill. Employers want engineers and employers will employ engineers, particularly those doing degree apprenticeships.