Europe must address engineering shortfall, warns chip CEO
Europe is failing to capitalise on its academic heritage, warns Fred Dart, CEO, FTDI
As an engineer by trade, it worries me immensely that the UK and many other EU member states are not doing anywhere near enough to get school leavers to take engineering degrees.
Conversely emerging nations, like China and India, are not only able to achieve order of magnitude better levels of output for graduate engineers, but this is ramping up all the time.
One of the major problems is that not enough attention is being paid to the home-grown human resource base.
British universities, for example, may still be filling their engineering courses, but due to their increasingly strong commercial outlook, they are concentrating on taking foreign students who will pay up to three times more in fees.
In the long term this is a false economy however, as the knowledge that these students gain is effectively being exported away and thus not actually benefiting the country responsible for imparting it.
To compound the problem further, after graduating the best of our young indigenous engineers are often enticed away from the discipline they trained for into higher paid jobs elsewhere, such as within the finance sector.
One solution I envisage to the problem could be for the government to refund part (or all) of a student’s university fees (where applicable) when they passed an engineering degree, maybe as a credit against their student loan debt.
Currently Europe is failing to capitalise on its academic heritage and giving other regions the upper hand. As a result there is a growing risk that it will jeopardise its global position as a hotbed of innovation.
Potentially this could mean that less and less European technology start-ups will be able to make an impact on the world stage.
EU member state governments, as well as industry, need to make greater effort to ensure that this longstanding engineering legacy is not lost forever, so that future generations of skilled European engineers will be able to make a contribution to the advancement of technology.