Executives from leading electronics firms have come to Bristol this week to advance the business skills of the brightest electronic engineering undergraduates at the UKESF Summer Skills Workshop.
Hosted by the University of Bristol, the five-day intensive course aims to ensure the UKESF scholars are the best prepared for a career in the UK electronics industry.
Shortages in key business skills was highlighted in the recently published ESCO Report for government as one of the biggest hurdles to achieving future industry growth.
Highlighting the demand for these key skills, senior management from ARM, CSR, Dialog Semiconductor, Imagination Technologies, Jaguar Land Rover, NVIDIA Corporation, Toumaz Technology and XMOS actively participate in the workshop. Seminars on project management, business ethics, negotiation and emotional intelligence feature on the course for the 40 scholars attending, who are sponsored by 13 companies.
The recent ESCO report highlighted that the £78 billion industry, which employs 850,000 people, can grow by 55pc before the end of the decade but addressing the skills issue is critical to achieving this, with the report stating: “Undergraduate and graduate skills remain a subject of continued debate and complaint where employer feedback criticises the quality of output from higher education … there are concerns in relation to employability and work readiness.”
UKESF chairman, Indro Mukerjee said: “In order to address the UK electronics skills gap, industry, academia, government, sector skills councils and trade associations need to work together to encourage engineering undergraduates to take up roles in the sector. This workshop is testament to the commitment of senior figures in the industry to support the next generation of engineers, and promotes the value of CPD for future industry growth.”
Steve Allpress, vice president and CTO for modem development at Nvidia Corporation, said: “We undertake cutting edge R&D to deliver the most advanced mobile communications technology and we therefore look to take on the very best people. By engaging with UKESF and supporting our undergraduates through work placements and the workshop programme, we not only reach more of the brightest students at an early stage, but we can also ensure that they will hit the ground running when they join us as graduates.”
Professor Andy Nix, head of electrical and electronic engineering, at the University of Bristol, said: “Bristol produces many of the engineering industry’s leaders and being part of UKESF helps us place more of our students with world-class companies to gain vital industry experience. These workshops further enhance this experience with essential, albeit non-academic business skills. Employer support for the UKESF also demonstrates the demand for graduates in the sector, which has helped us attract more students to our degree programmes.”
The workshop was designed, and is delivered in partnership with Semta, NMI, the IET and industry partners.
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 a significant (44pc since 2002) decline in UK applicants for electronics degrees, which threatens the performance and long-term prospects of the industry.