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Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Thursday, 23 April 2009 15:02 UK

Investing in engineers

Len Tingle
Len Tingle
Editor
Politics Show Yorkshire and Lincolnshire

School pupils

Video: Investing in engineers

Yorkshire and Lincolnshire's manufacturing companies say recruitment and retention of young engineers is crucial to the survival of the sector.

Engineering companies say that negative attitudes towards engineering as a career and a lack of educational and training opportunities at all levels are to blame.

"Don't mention oily rags and spanners here," says Carwyn Jones.

Carwyn is sitting in front of a computer screen in the department of Engineering Design at Leeds University.

A graduate of the University, he has just returned to study and research for his PhD after a period in industry.

At just 23, he specialises in medical engineering.

Among other things he has designed wheel chairs for people with spinal deformities.

"This is such a rewarding occupation," he enthuses.

"Virtually everything you can think of has some form of engineering input. But most people think of it as a dirty job in factories that are going to close down any day now."

Ambassador of engineering

Carwyn is also an "Engineering Ambassador" in schools.

An hour's drive away at Winterhill School at Kimberworth on the outskirts of Rotherham, Carwyn and a group of enthusiastic teenagers have helped design and construct an electric car.

It is a project in the region run by STEMNET- a government funded initiative to promote the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

Pupi;s try out engineered car
Pupils try their hand at the appliance of engineering science

First to jump into the driving seat as the car was pushed into place in the class was a 14-year-old girl.

She and three of her girl friends say they have really enjoyed being part of the project - but only one of them says she wants to go on and study sciences.

That is a concern for Sheffield MP and former minister for women's affairs Meg Munn.

"So many young women either avoid sciences or don't use their skills in later life. We've got to convince them that there is a good long term future in industries like engineering," she says.

Nurturing skills

It is a view echoed by Dave Wilson of the manufacturers' organisation, the EEF.

"We have to get this right," he says.

"The future is bleak for what could be a thriving sector if we don't have the skills available to drive it forward.

"Yes, there's a recession and some manufacturers are being hit hard.

Meg Munn
MP Meg Munn says we must invest in young engineers

"But engineering is still a major contributor to the regional and national economy and there will be opportunities for skilled young people at all levels- if the training is available."

The Politics Show for Yorkshire Lincolnshire and the North Midlands takes a look at skills shortages in the engineering sector.

Clare Frisby presents The Politics Show for Yorkshire Lincolnshire and the North Midlands Sunday from 1500 on BBC One.

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