A major concern of the electronics industry has been the question where are our future engineers. The inspiration for a career in engineering often has started in a secondary school lesson either Physics or Design and Technology. The lesson or the topic being taught has led the student to say to themselves I would like to know more. In a nutshell it has created an interest.
Secondary education (KS3 and KS4) has changed dramatically over the last decade. Very few schools have offered electronics as part of the DT curriculum with the majority of schools preferring Product Design as the way to teach DT. In many cases the only experience of electronics is assembling a kit and then designing a case to put the assembled PCB into. No real knowledge of electronics is imparted, no experience of circuit simulation, modelling or designing of PCB layouts takes place.
One of the main problems has been the lack of teachers with knowledge of electronics. Attempts to address this have taken place with the Electronics in Schools Strategy (EISS), but if you ask the exam boards less than 10% of schools study GCSE Electronic Products. Despite programmable components being part of the new KS3 curriculum very few schools will actually teach it.
A way forward
We need to look outside of the education system to attract young people to electronics and to engineering. One way to achieve this is through the Scouts Electronics Badge and the Guides Scientist Badge. Electron have worked with a number of Scout groups who have delivered the Electronics badge to their members over the years.
We are delighted to announce that we are sponsoring the Peak 2015 Scout and Guide jamboree “time of your light” which is a joint initiative with the IET. Its goal is to inspire thousands of young people to discover the excitement of engineering and technology. It will deliver an engaging, hands-on soldering activity over five days of camping at Chatsworth House Estate, Derbyshire, 26-31 July 2015.
Is there a Scout or Guide group near to you where you could inspire the next generation of engineers?