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Ensuring sustainability in the lifting equipment sector

Like other parts of engineering, the Lifting Equipment sector needs to recruit new talent to ensure industry sustainability. A new LEEA Awards scheme and attracting young people to LiftEX are vital steps towards achieving this goal, explains Ross Moloney, CEO of LEEA.

Ensuring sustainability in the lifting equipment sector

31-07-2018

Like other parts of engineering, the Lifting Equipment sector needs to recruit new talent to ensure industry sustainability. A new LEEA Awards scheme and attracting young people to LiftEX are vital steps towards achieving this goal, explains Ross Moloney, CEO of LEEA.

We are challenged by massive changes in the world of work. Obviously young people born into the high tech era are at one with the IT behind much of today’s engineering, yet it’s hard not to lament the days before computer games, when traditional toys such as Lego and especially Meccano – which is almost synonymous with cranes and lifting equipment – stoked the career ambitions of many youngsters by giving them their first taste of engineering.

As with toys, the career opportunities available to today’s young people are almost incomparable with those of the past, and engineering fades further into the background as a choice, drowned out by more attention grabbing careers.

The result of these factors is that skilled engineers and technicians, which are essential for the lifting equipment industry, are in short supply.

There is some encouragement to be gained from a statistic within the "Engineering UK 2018" report, launched last spring. It finds the proportion of young people aged 11 to 19 who would consider a career in engineering has risen from 40% in 2013 to 51% in 2017. Unfortunately, this does not assuage the serious skills gap that remains. Despite the fact that the engineering sector employs over 5.6 million people and turns over £1.2 trillion, making it key to the UK economy, the report finds an estimated annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineering graduates and technicians to fill core engineering roles.

Of the businesses surveyed in the CBI/Pearson Education and Skills Survey, 61% expressed a lack of confidence that there will be enough people available in the future with the necessary skills to fill their high-skilled job vacancies.

The challenge for the lifting equipment sector is not just to compete with the alluring careers that tend to gain the media spotlight, but also attract the attention of the pool of recruits who have chosen an engineering career path. Many of these may be thinking in terms of aviation, automotive design and even space. Indeed, 2018 has been designated the ‘Year of Engineering’ which sees the UK Space Agency funding a series of education and outreach projects designed to inspire interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

So what can we do in the more down to earth engineering arena? We need to pitch ourselves to the millennials and generate a louder buzz.

Meaningful exposure to industry for pupils and their teachers is among the recommendations of The Engineering UK report. It suggests that Inspirational engineering-focused engagement activities can help to ensure young people experience real life applications of engineering and are well-informed about the many doors they can open through their subject choices, yet does not see this currently happening in a major way.

LEEA is doing its bit by reaching out to schools, careers advisors, teachers, universities, colleges and regional boards. We are inviting all these vital stakeholders to LiftEx, which offers the ideal opportunity to encourage young people into our sector.

Moreover, the new LEEA Awards 2018, which will be presented at the Awards Dinner on the first night of the LiftEx exhibition, will play a vital role in promoting the gold standard offered by LEEA members to their customers around the world, as well as encouraging young talent.

One of the LEEA Awards, Apprentice of the Year, is aimed at LEEA members who wish to recognise the contribution and individual effort that an apprentice has made. This is all the more important when one considers another Engineering UK report finding: 58% of 11-14 year olds know little or nothing about apprenticeships. The LEEA Awards will also include ‘Academy Awards’, which will acknowledge students who have excelled in learning and development.

Any award winner naturally gains satisfaction from recognition of their effort and achievement. But the benefit of the award runs far beyond the individual recipient. Through rewarding the best of the best, an award broadcasts a positive signal that an industry is coming together to celebrate the raising of standards.

We share a common challenge with many other sectors in terms of industry sustainability. Many trade associations have long established awards events. This is an exciting opportunity for LEEA, which is the largest trade association in the Lifting Industry, to draw on best practice. Boosting the profile of the lifting equipment industry through promoting the impressive work performed by our members can only encourage new recruits and thus contribute to safeguarding the sustainability of our industry.

For further information or to register, visit: www.liftex.org

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