As part of its pledge to bridge the engineering skills gap, Rotech, the Hertfordshire designer of end-to-end coding and feeding systems, participated in a two day ‘Insight into Industry’ conference at The Marlborough Science Academy, St Albans.
Joining other national and local companies, including Marks and Spencer, Rotech used their presentation slots on the 5th and 6th July to engage with more than 200 year-9 students and showcase the exciting and varied career engineering pathways available to young people.
Rotech’s managing director Chris Baker, who is eager to change the perception that engineering is a ‘job for the boys’, used his opening presentation to inspire the young audience and explain what goes on behind the scenes at a rapidly growing enterprise and the types of opportunities this affords people seeking career diversity.
Enthused by a conversation with Dawn Bonfield, CEO of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES), Chris decided to strengthen links with the local school and reach out to the future generation of engineers direct. “In order to have a positive influence over future engineering talent, it is important to connect with young people at the time when they are considering their academic choices. We are keen to break down the perceived barriers and misconceptions and put engineering on young people’s future career radar” emphasised Chris.
He continued: “Working within an SME company like Rotech often give people a more rounded experience, as they get exposure to all of Rotech’s business, including manufacturing and assembly, design, sales support, admin, marketing and sales. The practical on-the-job experience can give young people an upper hand over staying on in full-time education, and provide wider industry exposure.”
Rotech’s most recent apprentice, who is an ex-student from the Academy was on hand to share his personal experience. James Bennett, who joined Rotech just several weeks ago, applied for his apprenticeship after attending an open day at the company’s facility last November with fellow year-11 students. “My immediate impression back then was the variety of exciting opportunities engineering offered, the difference they make to the world we live in and how I could be a positive role model in the future,” adds James.
George Wallis-Smith who joined the company in 2015 explained to the audience his rationale for choosing the apprenticeship route over going to university. “From personal experience I feel that apprenticeships give you greater insight into industry and exposure to the variety of work placement opportunities available,” explains George. “I quickly discovered that the perception of engineering is nothing like how it’s portrayed in the media. By studying an apprenticeship, I am learning valuable life skills such as project planning, time management and communication.”
As part of the experience, Rotech set up three displays featuring a 3D CAD and printing system, one of their commercial printers – the RF Lite – and a range of thermal inkjet printers. The students were encouraged to get hands on and interact with the machinery. “It was great to see them so engaged in the product range and inquisitive about the mechanics and how technology in this sector is evolving” said Chris.
Students said that it was “great to see a different view into the design side of engineering” and “highly interesting, 3D printers in every home, I’m terrified!”
Thanking Rotech for supporting the school career enrichment programme, Michelle Beddall, LRC Manager from the Marlborough Science Academy added “Introducing a company like Rotech to the students allowed them to have a more hands on experience with real life engineering that will hopefully inspire and give them confidence to move into that direction if they so choose. A much needed addition to our ‘Insight into Industry’ conference. Thank you for being part of it”.