Monday, 10 May 2021

Engineering Graduates for Industry: Rethinking our Approach to Skills Gaps, Context and Partnership

Jack Trethewey, Cohort 2018

It has been widely reported that graduates possess a noticeable skills gap upon embarking on their careers. In fact in 2018, Bloomberg created a study in which 200 senior-level corporate/academia-based individuals were asked for their opinions on four primary themes amongst students: preparedness, skills, collaboration and planning. It was found that as little as 35% of these individuals believed that students were well prepared with an array of soft and hard skills that they could effectively apply in their careers [1].

So the question that naturally follows this revelation is, what can we do to fix this issue? Well, one of the solutions proposed by The University of Sheffield is the Sheffield Engineering Leadership Academy, or SELA for short. If you are reading this article as a SELA member, then you will already be able to recite from memory the reason SELA was established.

SELA is run by Dr Gary Wood, a National Teaching Fellow and teacher in The University of Sheffield’s Mechanical Engineering Department. SELA is a two-year programme that identifies second-year engineering undergraduate students who have the potential to be the industry leaders of the future. It is designed to support these students, working in close partnership with industry, to develop leadership capability and help students discover their agency in driving positive change. Through projects, workshops and industry interaction, SELA students develop skills such as effective communication, project planning, networking, conflict resolution, active listening and professional development – to name a few. 
 
To effectively develop these skills, SELA members take part in a variety of interactive workshops tailored to work on specific skills-related issues with razor-sharp precision. Students also partake in several engaging projects throughout the programme, working alongside other student members and key industry stakeholders to propose innovative solutions to a whole host of engaging problems.

Furthermore, to compliment the SELA programme, Dr Gary Wood and the IMechE Yorkshire Humber Processes Division have been working closely together to develop a series of webinars designed to put the skills gap under the microscope, examining it from every angle and enlisting the perspectives of a variety of individuals who have felt its consequences. The webinar series will pick the brains of undergraduates, educators, post-graduates and industry leaders in an audience friendly and interactive way to get their perspectives on the issue. You can secure your place to the first webinar by clicking here.

The first webinar will be led by Dr Gary Wood and will investigate why, with so many attempts to address the skills gap, the problem still persists. It will take place on 14th May 2021 at 11:30 BST. If you are unable to attend the webinar, do not worry! You can still register online for free and you will be sent a recording of the event. You do not have to be an IMechE member to attend. If you have any questions, please contact Jack Trethewey.

References

[1] Building-Tomorrows-Talent-Collaboration-Can-Close-Emerging-Skills-Gap.pdf (unitedwayswva.org)

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