A group of British head teachers and careers advisers were given a rare, behind-the-scenes look into McLaren’s manufacturing facilities during a tour of the McLaren Technology Centre.
The tour was organized in conjunction with the UK Department for Business, Innovation & Skills as part of the UK Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ campaign – an initiative aimed at encouraging young people to see engineering as an exciting and viable career choice while increasing awareness of how important a strong manufacturing base is to the future of the UK economy.
Ron Dennis, Executive Chairman of McLaren Group and McLaren Automotive said: “We’ve seen a worrying decline in our industrial base over the past two decades and this alarming trend must be reversed if we’re to create a more stable and prosperous future for our country. Changing the perception of manufacturing and engineering amongst students represents a critical first step in this process so I lend my full support to the ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ initiative. I have no doubt that the bright young engineers working on our Formula 1 and sports car projects will show that Britain’s automotive sector still retains some of the best manufacturing and engineering talent in the world.”
As greater emphasis is now being placed on rebalancing the economy and rebuilding the UK’s manufacturing base, engineering and technical skills are essential, but the country potentially faces an acute skills shortage. This was evidenced in a survey by the Engineering and Technology Board which found that 49% of 7 to 11-year-olds thought it would be ‘boring’ to be an engineer and only 12% of 11 to 16-year-olds claim to have any knowledge of what a career in engineering would be like.
Both Government and industry agree that changing negative perceptions of manufacturing amongst young people is essential if the UK is to rebalance its economy, foster the next generation of engineering talent and generate growth through exports.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: “The See Inside Manufacturing programme is an important step in giving teachers and careers advisers the opportunity to see first-hand the essential role that industry plays across the UK to help us achieve the sort of sustainable and balanced economic growth that the country needs.
“The Government is investing in more apprenticeships than ever before. Together with industry we must inspire more young people to see manufacturing and engineering as a viable and exciting career choice.
“We also need to ensure that UK manufacturing can take on its competitors head on and make the next decade one of the most dynamic and entrepreneurial periods in our history.”
Identifying, supporting and developing young talent is at the very heart of McLaren Automotive’s business. The company opened the doors to the McLaren Technology Centre in the hope that its stimulating surroundings will help reshape these perceptions and inspire the would-be engineers of tomorrow.
During the tour, the group of teachers and careers advisers were given the opportunity to see McLaren Automotive’s new high-performance sports car, the MP4-12C, being built and meet some of McLaren’s young graduates who explained why being an engineer on McLaren’s Formula 1 and road car programmes is anything but ‘boring’ and why it should be considered as a rewarding career choice by all young people.
Stuart Shephard, Headteacher at Bishop David Brown School in Woking, who was part of the visiting group of teachers and careers advisers said: “Seeing inside the McLaren Technology Centre is a unique and incredibly impressive experience that would inspire any student to pursue a career in engineering. In a time of great uncertainty for young people, the image and ethos that McLaren portrays is the kind of motivational benchmark that all of us should aspire to. The company has a wealth of young people who have joined through different pathways. Sharing these stories with students will offer them enormous encouragement and show that anything is possible”.
The next stage of the Government’s ‘See Inside Manufacturing’ campaign is a fortnight of ‘open days’ in October which will see groups of students going in to automotive manufacturing facilities across the country to get a feel for what a career in engineering and manufacturing might be like. Once again, McLaren Automotive will be playing its part by inviting students from five local schools around Woking.