Industry, government and academia are at risk of stifling economic growth if there isn’t a greater focus on skills based learning, such as work experience and internships, says the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), as a new campaign Work Experience for All is launched today.

With 62% of engineering employers reporting that graduates don’t have the right practical skills for today’s workplace, and up to 30% of engineering students going into careers outside engineering**, the IET believes more can be done to tackle the engineering skills shortfall and now calls on the Government to develop a national work experience framework.

The IET’s campaign, which comes during National Work Experience Week (16-20 October 2017), brings together employers, universities, further education colleges and policy makers to collaborate on developing the quality of work experience and internships for those in education or training, to improve the supply of engineers and technicians coming into the industry.

Commenting on the new campaign, John Perkins, Chair of the IET Skills and Education Policy Panel, said: “As we are facing an engineering shortfall in the next decade, compounded by uncertainty around skills following Brexit, there is deep concern that access to our next generation of work-ready engineers is being stifled by a lack of quality work experience and internships.

Work Experience For All’s recommendations include developing a government-led national framework for work experience, which would see a region or city’s major Higher Education provider building a work experience ‘supply chain’ with local businesses, schools and further education providers. The framework could be supported by extending the existing apprenticeship levy, requiring employers to invest in internships and work placements. This would be particularly valuable for smaller companies who typically struggle with the time and cost implications of offering work experience opportunities and could also support students.

“There is also a need for more locally driven university and industry partnerships – and to enable more students to find their own work experience opportunities. Initiatives such as these would be a welcome part of the new Industrial Strategy for the UK.”

The IET’s Work Experience For All: manifesto for change, and can be found via the campaign website.