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University revamp needed to tackle skills crisis


UNIVERSITY EDUCATION needs a major overhaul if the severe shortage of engineers facing the UK over the next decade is to be solved.

The profession also needs to persuade more young people to choose engineering as a career.

The Royal Academy of Engineering has warned in a report Educating Engineers in the 21st Century, that despite the crisis, engineering courses are 'seriously underfunded'.

Feedback from universities and industry also suggests that course content needs addressing because it's not meeting industry's requirements.

The Academy suggests that one way to combat the shortage would be to allow foreign graduates of UK engineering courses to work in the country for more than the currently permissible one year after graduating.

But some of the blame for the shortage lies with the profession itself, argues Aston University vice chancellor Julia King, who chaired the working group that produced the report.

'The profession generally is still not doing enough to persuade young people that engineering is an exciting career that would give them a chance to help save the planet.

'At this time when our need for engineering talent is huge, and when our young people are increasingly interested in how they can help save the planet, we are failing to persuade them that engineering courses are exciting and worthwhile, ' said King, whose working group included head of civil engineering at Imperial College professor David Nethercot and project director of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link Hugh Norie.

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