Young engineers took the first steps towards forming a Society working group at an introductory meeting in Bristol last December.

The Society’s membership team travelled to the S&B Automotive training facility to meet a group of ten apprentices to discuss their experience of engineering. They talked about apprenticeships, how they got into the profession, and how a modern membership organisation should adapt to meet the needs of the next generation of engineers.

As well as providing free membership for students and apprentices, SOE now aims to set up a young person committee to identify what people studying towards an engineering career - or those new to the industry - expect from a professional engineering institution.

By forming a young engineers’ group, it will allow us to determine what extra support is needed for early career professionals. Ideally, the network will discuss how it can use the resources of the Society to support the next generation of engineers, and particularly how to navigate the increasingly complex apprenticeship field.

At the introductory meeting, half of the group said they became engineers because someone in their family had previously worked in the field. The remainder had seen an advert for the apprenticeship online. Most said that engineering had never been suggested as a profession when they were at school but that they were all attracted to engineering by the opportunity to work in a practical field that was fulfilling and offered the chance to improve.

Some said they were surprised when they realised that apprenticeships weren’t just open to those who had just left school. The need to change perceptions in schools (and in other parts of society) was also mentioned.  

The group suggested practical engineering challenges as a way of getting those in school excited and interested in engineering by showing the problem-solving nature of the profession.

They were all motivated to develop themselves professionally and were especially interested in next generation technology and building their skills in those fields. Learning how to work with fully electric vehicles – more common as they progressed in the profession – would be very welcome.

When asked what they thought a modern membership organisation should provide, they suggested:

    • Access to technical online content such as webinars
    • The opportunity to learn about and become proficient with new technology
    • The opportunity to socialise with technicians at similar stages in their career

If you would like to get involved in the young person working group, please contact the membership team on: 020 7630 1111.