The five-day intensive workshop includes seminars on project management, business ethics, negotiation and emotional intelligence

Electronics industry unite on graduate skills shortages

UKESF unites electronics industry to tackle graduate skills shortages

Press Release: Business ethics and negotiation on the curriculum in UKESF’s intensive five-day skills workshop for top electronic engineering students

Keith Robertson, Technical Director of Linn Products talking with UKESF scholars
Keith Robertson, Technical Director of Linn Products, talking with UKESF scholars

The University of Edinburgh is playing host to the second annual UKESF Summer Workshop, which brings together leaders from the electronic industry’s top companies with an aim to advancing the UKESF scholars’ business skills.

The issue of graduate skills shortages has been reported across all UK industries and companies from the electronic systems community, worth 3pc to UK GDP, and electronics dependent sectors are among the first to respond to this vital issue.

The five-day intensive workshop includes seminars on project management, business ethics, negotiation and emotional intelligence and is being attended by nearly 50 of the UK’s best electronic and electrical engineering undergraduates.

Senior management from ARM, Dialog Semiconductor, Jaguar Land Rover, Linn and Wolfson Microelectronics are actively participating; inspiring the students about the global competitiveness of the industry and its future and highlighting the key skills required to support its continued success.

The initiative is backed by several leading UK firms and was created to better prepare electronic engineering graduates for the workplace; answering repeated calls from all sectors for top graduates to enter the jobs market with more than just academic skills.

A recent Young Enterprise survey of 28 UK blue-chip businesses – from finance and retail to technology and pharmaceuticals – found 75pc of managers believed graduates entering the workforce did not possess the skills they need.

A 2011 CBI Education and Skills survey has highlighted a severe shortage in science, technology, engineering and maths graduates and a lack in workplace experience and employability skills among graduates; such as teamworking, communication and customer awareness.

The Skills workshop builds on the success of the inaugural 2011 event, which saw ARM’s Warren East, Plastic Logic’s CEO Indro Mukerjee and Imagination Technologies’ Tony King Smith present to and meet with UKESF scholars. The Workshop’s student participation is up by 200pc for 2012.

“The industry not only backs this initiative, its management have found time and made active participation a priority. This highlights the emphasis the industry places on nurturing the next generation of engineers,” said Indro Mukerjee, also UKESF Strategic Advisory Board chairman. “For our future success it’s imperative that we continue to invest in young talent as international markets get more competitive. Schemes like this prepare graduates to add value from day one and give our businesses an edge.”

Peter Frith, CTO of Wolfson, one of 12 companies awarding UKESF scholarships, which includes bursaries, work placements and sponsorship to attend to Skills Workshop, said: “The UK is renowned for innovation and quality and we need the best talent for this to continue; to remain internationally competitive we can’t just leave graduate skills to chance. Our experience in sponsoring undergraduates and supporting their skills development in the workplace has been very positive and I’d encourage more companies who want international success to get involved with schemes such as the UKESF’s.”

The Workshop was designed, and is delivered in partnership with Semta, the IET and industry partners, with the support of the Science and Technology Facilities Council. The programme also includes a visit to the UK Astronomy Technology Centre.

The UK Electronic Skills Foundation was formed in 2010 to increase the number of talented electronics engineering graduates entering the industry. Its creation was in response to industry concerns and followed asignificant (over 40pc) decline in UK applicants for electronics degrees, which threatens the performance and long-term prospects of the industry.

The organisation supports talented individuals through a combination of skills workshops, industry-sponsored bursaries, work experience placements and industrial mentoring, which run throughout the UKESF Scholar’suniversity life. UKESF also runs schemes to attract school students to the industryand increase electronics degree uptake.

UKESF was founded by Semta, NMI, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and industry partners. The organisation brings together the public and private sectors with leading universities and aims to provide 160 new industry-funded undergraduate scholarships each year, with 10 UKESF partner universities and 100 sponsorcompanies signed up by 2014. Since its inception electronics degree uptake by British students has increased to 3,300 (up 23pc on 2008).