UKESF-EDT partnership sparks school children's enthusiasm in electronics
Press Release: UKESF and EDT partnership sparks enthusiasm of school children, aged 12-14, to reverse decline in electronics degree uptake
Through regional "Go4SET"electronics challenges, starting in South West England, partnership reaches out to schools and company mentors
The £23 billion1 a year UK electronics sector, which employs 250,000 people, is at risk following a significant decline2 in UK students taking up electronic engineering at degree level.
A series of regional challenges has been created for schoolchildren aged 12-14 throughout the UK to help counter this decline. The aim of these challenges is to stimulate interest in and raise awareness of electronic engineering as an exciting subject and rewarding career path.
Entitled "Our Electronics Environment", the 10-week Go4SET project will demonstrate the relevance of pursuing science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects to careers in electronics.
Each participating team of six students and a teacher will be sponsored by a company and united with an industry mentor to empower the students to broaden their skills, develop analytical thinking and make informed decisions about the range of careers open to them in this dynamic industry.
The inaugural UKESF Go4SET project will begin in Autumn 2012 and be open to schools throughout the South West region. Often dubbed 'Silicon Gorge', the region is a hub of electronic excellence and hosts headquarters and design centres for several of the world's leading electronic companies.
To initiate their thinking, teams will be invited to learn about electronics from 50 years ago. They will be required to investigate the role electronics plays in their everyday school life and to think up smart electronic solutions to problems identified by the school itself. Finally they will be asked to predict what might be possible 5 years into the future.
The South West regional final will take place in Bristol during Spring 2013. The UKESF Go4SET project is then planned to be rolled out nationally.
Mark Williams, the education director at EDT said "The Go4SET project has been created to advance personal development and inspire a new generation of young minds to find out more about the rapid technology change happening around them and the ways in which they can be a part of this future.
"In designing the Go4SET project for UKESF we've worked with several schools to receive feedback and refine the brief and we're confident that we have a winning formula that will motivate students."
Lynn Tomkins, UK operations director for Semta, and member of both the UKESF strategic advisory board and EDT board of trustees, said "The UK really is a world leader in the electronics sector and the products we design and manufacture are used in many of the world's leading brands, including smartphones, tablets and games consoles.
"For this success to continue we, as an industry, need to reachout to young minds and inspire them from an early age to learn more about the industry and the rewarding career path. Our research shows that the UK will need to recruit over 90,000 engineers, scientists and technicians by 2016 just to replace those retiring."
"This is will be fantastic addition to the menu of Go4SET projects already on offer to schools." said Peter Crompton, assistant head teacher at Fortismere School, London. "Having trialled the UKESF programme within my own school, my colleagues and I welcome a STEM project with an electronics focus, which will enhance our curriculum delivery at Key Stage 3.
"Through schemes such as this Fortismere has embedded company input into extra curricular programmes and the taught curriculum provision with mutual benefits."
Rebecca Whatley-Stokes, global head of development and learning at Dialog Semiconductor said "Dialog believes it is vital to invest in future skills; both to develop future talent in order to maintain a leading position as a company, and to support the regeneration of engineering within the UK. We also believe in giving something back to our local communities and so we've actively supported the development of this project and will be sponsoring two teams in the South West competition. We have already been impressed by some of the imaginative solutions that school pupils have come up with in the trials. We would encourage more employers to join this project to help harness this enthusiasm for our future."
Founded in January 2010, the UKESF seeks to reverse the decline in the number of UK graduates entering the electronics industry by linking talented students in schools and universities with companies and mentoring programmes. It aims to have 160 new undergraduate scholarships each year, with 10 UKESF partner universities and 100 sponsor companies signed up by 2014.
 Engineering and Technology Board, "Engineering UK 2007", Research Report, Dec2007 – section 3.9.4
 Universities and Colleges Admissions Service data show a continued decline inUK acceptances to 2,689 for 2008