IET tells employers to look beyond A-level grades for engineers
12 Aug 2021
An Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) spokeswoman said the uncertainty over A-level grades would make it more challenging than ever for employers and academic bodies to ensure they find the best candidates for engineering careers.
Commenting on the recent England and Scotland A level, BTEC and Highers results, principal policy advisor for education and innovation Stephanie Baxter said: “It has been a difficult year for many and with almost no students taking any form of exam this year and limited opportunity to undertake any practical work experience.
“This makes it incredibly complex for colleges and universities to select who will be the best candidates for the future workforce of engineers.”
Employers and academia needed to be flexible and acknowledge that grades had been awarded differently this year. They must also be aware of the loss of learning and industry experience during the pandemic, said Baxter.
“When choosing the future workforce of engineers, work from the IET showed the importance of looking at the aptitude of candidates when assessing who would make the best future engineers. This included looking for students with more creativity and removing the requirement for engineering that students had to have studied maths and physics to an advanced level.
Academia and employers must ensure there is greater diversity within the engineering field, in both minority groups but also in ways of thinking, she cautioned.
They also needed to be mindful that universities did not always provide the best route to become anengineer. Apprenticeships, including degree apprenticeship qualifications were valuable in providing students with the training and experience they need to become problem solving, skilled workers, ready for the future of work, added Baxter.
“Higher Education and employers must remember that engineering requires the right aptitude and ability. These must be assessed alongside the grade any student receives.”
Meanwhile, Make UK Head of Policy & Campaigns Bhavina Bharkhada welcomed the increase in top grades awarded in Maths amongst female students, together with the high number of young people sitting STEM subjects.
“The pandemic has shown just how integral our science, technology, and industrial base is the UK and we hope these young people are inspired to join our sector to help to tackle the big societal challenges we face as we come out of the Covid crisis,” said Bharkhada.
“We urge young people to look at wealth of opportunities and options available to them including apprenticeships when considering their next steps. Despite the difficult year, almost 6 in 10 employers are continuing to make these opportunities open and accessible to all young people across the whole of the UK.”