Racing start for next generation of engineers

16 Oct 2013 11:56 AM

A joint government-industry initiative encouraging young people to consider a career in manufacturing moves into the fast lane

A joint government-industry initiative to encourage young people to consider a career in manufacturing moved into the fast lane when McLaren roared into Westminster today (16 October 2013).

The McLaren Manufacturing Challenge forms part of the See Inside Manufacturing (SIM) campaign by getting students to think about engineering in a practical, hands-on sense by designing a motor-less vehicle that, just as in Formula 1, must comply with strict regulations but be as fast as possible.

Three schools will take part in a showcase at the Department for Business before competing in the grand final at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on 8 November.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said:

See Inside Manufacturing plays an important part in challenging outdated perceptions of industry. The manufacturing sector is crucial to building a stronger economy – supporting two and a half million jobs and contributing almost £140 billion a year to the UK.

Working with business I want to inspire young people to see just how dynamic the industry is. Events like this will put them in pole position to get involved in these rewarding careers.

Alan Foster, Operations Director at McLaren Automotive said:

Nearly everything that we use in our lives today is born out of engineering. The UK has a proud heritage in this field and boasts some of the best engineers and manufacturing facilities in the world. However, there is still an outdated perception amongst young people that it is an ‘oily-rag’ industry and doesn’t represent an exciting career choice. You only need ask the hundreds of talented engineers working on Jenson Button’s Formula 1 car or the new McLaren P1 super car to know that nothing could be further from the truth.

This is the third year we’ve run the McLaren Manufacturing Challenge and welcomed students in to see our facilities. We’re continually amazed by the level of ingenuity shown in the vehicles they design and hope that it’s an experience that inspires them to go on and be the McLaren engineers of the future.

SIM involves businesses opening their doors to young people and teachers, allowing them a first-hand view of modern manufacturing and the exciting jobs available.

Before giving the green light to start the McLaren Manufacturing Challenge Dr Cable heard what other sectors were doing to support SIM. The Business Secretary met with representatives from Airbus, Chemicals Industries Association (CIA), Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and EngineeringUK.

SIM is part of the industrial strategy work to ensure business can attract the talent they need for growth. With seven new industries joining automotive, aerospace, and food & drink this year the full list of sectors taking part is:

  • automotive
  • aerospace
  • nuclear
  • oil & gas
  • offshore wind
  • construction
  • life sciences
  • electronics
  • chemicals
  • food & drink

For those interested in finding out more go to See Inside Manufacturing.

BIS are also supporting Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) which takes place from 4 to 8 November 2013 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers. The campaign will challenge outdated negative perceptions about engineering careers, particularly amongst women, and demonstrate the relevance of engineering to young people’s everyday lives.

Notes to editors

  1. The SIM initiative involves young people aged 11 to 19 years.

  2. In June 2011, SIM was piloted in the automotive sector during which 35 companies hosted nearly 100 events across the country. In 2012, SIM was extended to include the aerospace and food & drink sectors – reaching nearly 4,500 people.

  3. Exit survey evaluation from the 2012 programme showed that: i. 90% emerged from events with more positive views of manufacturing, ii. 85% of young people will now consider a career in manufacturing, and iii. 85% of teachers and careers advisors will now explore scope for more regular engagement between students and local manufacturers.

  4. From October 2013, SIM will take place every October to allow the initiative to align more closely with the Autumn school timetable, making it easier for schools and teachers to organise visits for their pupils.

  5. The Food and Drink Federation (FDF) are holding 1,600 visits over October. For further information on the UK food and drink industry’s involvement in SIM the FDF website has further information.

  6. Schools taking part in the McLaren Challenge were asked to design an innovative new car (model size) which does not rely on petrol, diesel or electric to power it and achieves the fastest performance over a 10 metre track. The schools participating in the challenge at BIS were St Marylebone School, Westminster Academy and Gloucestershire College.

  7. The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.