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Engineering Shortage Forces Campaign

Engineering Shortage Forces Campaign

Government backed campaign to change perceptions and inspire young New Zealanders to choose a career in engineering, study New Zealand Diploma in Engineering or Bachelor of Engineering Technology

New Zealand is determined to address its engineering shortage. The problem is serious enough that industry stakeholders (IPENZ, Tertiary Education Commission, Employers, New Zealand Institutes of Technology and Polytechnics and Business NZ) have formed a collaborative partnership to address the issue under the banner of the Engineering Education to Employment (E2E) programme.

This includes the creation of a campaign called ‘Make the World’ which will roll out from 1st May, to raise awareness of the scope engineering actually covers, what's involved in studying engineering and the career opportunities available to graduates. A minimum of 500 engineering graduates are required per annum.

Sir Neville Jordan, Chair of the Engineering E2E Steering Committee, says the campaign is designed to draw attention to where there is the greatest shortage – engineers who have studied the two-year New Zealand Diploma in Engineering or three-year Bachelor of Engineering Technology degree.

"New Zealand needs more graduate engineers with level 6 and 7 qualifications. Based on the status quo New Zealand requires 120% growth in the number of engineering graduates, and this will grow to 233%[1] as we move towards an innovation-led economy.”

Jordan says that for this to happen, engineering needs to change its public perception.

"People tend to think of engineering as buildings and bridges, but depending on what field you specialise in, you could become part of New Zealand's growing film or sports industries, tackle environmental issues or be part of creating healthcare devices using nanotechnology. Of course the beauty of engineering is that the skill set is transferable overseas, opening up all sorts of international opportunities.”

Lisa Stafford, Senior Learning Advisor at Downer, says engineering has evolved significantly in the past 20 years but its image has remained unchanged.

“Once seen as a male dominated career, today's opportunities in engineering extend beyond infrastructure and technology to encompass full lifecycle planning and management of crucial assets in our communities. To meet these challenges we are constantly looking for greater diversity across the engineering profession.”

The Make the World campaign is about dispelling engineering myths and broadening the minds of young people and those who influence them. Make the World is based on government commissioned research that found young people are discarding engineering as a career too early in their career decision making process. Furthermore the findings show that their decisions are based on misunderstanding and social bias.

To get young people to take another look at engineering, Make the World will shine the light on engineering achievements by showcasing products from various industries that have involved an engineer at some point. It will also balance inspiration with aspiration by championing the stories of young New Zealand engineers who are at the forefront of the industry.

The Make the World campaign is financially backed by the government. Hon Steven Joyce, in his capacity of Minister of Science and Innovation and Minister for Tertiary Education Skills & Employment, is issuing a press release in the week commencing 2nd May in support of the initiative.

Sir Neville says everyone will benefit as a result of the campaign's success.

“Young people with valuable qualifications and careers, the tertiary institutions with full classes, employers with the staff they need and of course New Zealanders because everything in our world links to engineering in some way. That's why this campaign is so critical - engineering is how we make our world beautiful, more practical, more efficient and smarter. It's fundamental to how we make our world better."

[1] October, 2010 National Engineering Education Plan report


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