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Be proud, be loud, be generation great!


Ann Watson

CEO of Semta

Ann Watson explains why vocational pathways to work lead to the gateway of greatness.

Written by Ann Watson, CEO of Semta, the not-for-profit employer led organisation tasked with transforming skills in engineering and advanced manufacturing and represents nearly 150,000 UK companies.

 Every generation has to find its own way in life – but needs to ensure that it doesn’t make the same mistakes of the one that preceeded it.

I urge all those making life changing choices in the weeks, months and years to come – to ensure that they make informed decisions that reflect what’s right for them and what’s right for now. Without doubt there is huge opportunity for those that choose vocational pathways to work – especially an apprenticeship in engineering.

Firstly – the spectrum of engineering is bigger than any other sector. Everything you encounter – outside of nature – has been engineered so the opportunities are endless. The nation is crying out for new engineers now and for the foreseeable future with around 182,000 needed each year until 2022.

Secondly – Britain is brilliant at engineering – we know it and the World knows it too and it makes perfect sense for the country to concentrate on its strengths.

Thirdly – engineering is a vastly rewarding career offering openings at home and abroad. Our research shows that earning and learning with an apprenticeship makes a massive difference to one’s career prospects and bank balance.

Whilst many taking the academic route can be £90,000 in debt at the end of the process – qualified apprentices are in a position to buy, cars, holidays and possibly put down the deposit on a property. Do remember undertaking an apprenticeship doesn’t mean you can’t gain a degree in the process – or afterwards for that matter. Semta has been campaigning for many years to end the damaging snobbery which corrodes our economy.

Academics and ill-informed parents are doing this country and the students in their charge, a great disservice.

I applaud any measures that will ensure our young people are properly briefed about the life choices open to them.

Unfortunately teachers and parents with out-of-date perceptions of apprenticeships and a lack of understanding as to what engineering is have been limiting the career options of the young people in their charge.

With teachers undertaking a mere 30 hours of Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities per year, Semta has pioneered The STEM Exchange – an online platform enabling industry to invite teachers and careers advisors to take advantage of free CPD opportunities to see for themselves the real needs of industry – and the myriad of prospects that it holds.  The newly launched STEM Experience also offers work experience opportunities to people of all ages who are interested in a career within STEM.

The recent announcement from Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to introduce legislation to outlaw academic ‘snobbery’ and ensure pupils and students can make an informed choice looks particularly interesting.

I applaud any measures that will ensure our young people are properly briefed about the life choices open to them.

So I say take some time, do some research, talk to others already on a vocational pathway to work and make the right decision for you.”

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