Too many graduates are being diverted into lucrative jobs in finance when they could be engineers or techies, defence experts believe
The Ministry of Defence is hoping to get young people excited in the possibilities of technology and engineering by showcasing the current wave of machines used for mine-clearing similar to those featured in the Oscar winning film The Hurt Locker.
At an event at Yeomanry House in London, organised by the unfortunately acronymed Defence Industries Council (DIC), and the Ministry of Defence (MOD), industry exhibitors from companies including BAE Systems, Raytheon and General Dynamics showed off new technology such as ground “robots” and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) used in Afghanistan to seek out and destroy Improvised Explosive Devices.
Rear Admiral Rees Ward (Rtd), chief executive officer of Aerospace, Defence and Security and Secretary of the Defence Industries Council, said the event was designed to show off how industry and the MOD could work together to develop innovative combat technology such as the Cutlass Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) developed by defence specialist Northrop Grumman.
Rear Admiral Ward also added that young people might be encouraged to seek careers in technology and engineering after visiting the exhibition. “We also hope that young people reading about the high-quality, high-tech kit on display will be enthused and encouraged to get involved in science, technology and engineering an go on to pursue successful careers in the industry,” he said.
Tech losing bright students to banking industry
However, some in the defence industry believe that the sector has failed to get its pick of the brightest graduates in the past thanks to the banking industry luring away the top talent. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph this week, Dick Olver, chairman of BAE Systems said that the UK’s standing in engineering, technology and manufacturing could be improved if the City stopped poaching the best talent. “We need more of the very good engineering graduates to go into engineering rather than the financial services,” he said.
The MOD exhibition was developed in partnership with the Defence Matters Campaign – a nationwide project to highlight the contribution the defence industry makes to the UK economy. “The defence industry is a provider of over 300,000 high-value engineering jobs across all regions of the country, in companies of all sizes, a small number of whom we see represented here today,” added Rear Admiral Ward.
The MOD claims that the defence sector recruits hundreds of science and engineering graduates every year. “The MOD has a 13,000 strong workforce of engineers and scientists – forming the Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG),” the MOD said in a statement. “These specialists are involved at every stage from the research and development of new technologies through to their procurement and readiness for the front line. Indeed, the MOD has deployed more scientists to the front line in recent operations than at any time since the Second World War.”