Page last updated at 07:56 GMT, Wednesday, 18 June 2008 08:56 UK

Kindergartens eyed for engineers

Children on swings in Frankfurt
Companies want to interest young children in engineering

Some of Germany's industrial firms are turning to kindergartens to solve an acute shortage of trained engineers.

German firms have more than 90,000 engineering vacancies and companies are looking for a long-term solution.

Thousands of "discovery boxes" have been distributed to kindergartens throughout Germany.

They contain science experiments suitable for small children, such as how to construct a basic electric circuit with batteries and lights.

Teachers have also received special training from the companies in how to use the boxes.

Another of the boxes shows the basics of how a car works.

"There are plenty of engineers in the world, but it's a competition to attract them all around the world," says Sven Renkel of the VDI engineers' association.

"Every country wants them and not every qualified engineer wants to come and work here in Germany."

'Exciting topics'

Leading firms such as Siemens, Bosch and ThyssenKrupp are among hundreds of companies now giving materials and money to kindergartens to try to interest children as young as three in technology and science.

Dirk Haushalter of Bosch, says a lot of young children in Germany might really want to be engineers, but they are not given a chance to consider this as a possible career option at an early enough stage in their schooling.

"We need to be talking to children at a very early age, to show them how very exciting engineering topics can be."

And he rejects suggestions that engineering jobs can seem a little dull.

"No I don't think it's boring. So long as you do not reduce it just to theory - if you confront people with engineering challenges in a playful manner - then engineering is something very exciting for young and old."

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