Prince Charles: 'Engineers running round like headless chickens'

Prince Charles has claimed the UK's attitude towards engineering "hasn't changed in nearly forty years" and accused people of "running around like headless chickens" in an attempt to repair the industry. He was speaking at the launch of a new exhibition at the Science Museum aimed at getting more children interested in engineering.


"There are engineering skills shortages at both graduate and technician level, and we are simply not doing enough to bridge that gap," he said. The prince claimed that complaints he made about engineering skills shortages in the 1970s were still relevant today.

"The skills crisis has reached critical levels, particularly in the fields of mechanical engineers, machine setters and engineering professionals, which are among the most difficult posts to recruit."

He described the scale of the challenge the UK was facing as an "opportunity", pointing towards success in aerospace and automotive engineering.

Around 5.4 million people are currently work in engineering in the UK but only 31 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers are confident when giving engineering careers advice. As a result, 83 percent of young people have never had any STEM work experience. That figure will be reflected in an expected skills shortage in the coming years.

The Science Museum is hoping to change that. A new engineering exhibition aimed at 11-15 year olds opened today and will run for the next three years. Engineer Your Future features a variety of objects and interactive games and was described by a museum spokesperson as "an exhibition about careers that doesn't feel about careers".

The exhibition includes a game to design a Mars rover, a 3D printed city onto which a game is projected and challenges to deliver luggage in an airport and run trains on time. Videos and information cards help to explain the exhibition, with advice also available about how to pursue a career in engineering or take up further studies. Objects on display include a model of an Americas Cup yacht, a bionic hand and a model wall from tsunami simulator.

National Grid CEO Steve Holliday, who helped set up the exhibition, said that the UK still faced an "enormous gap of talent and skill in the engineering area." He said educators needed to "change the perception of engineering", claiming that many people still thought it was only for "grubby boys".

The Engineer Your Future exhibition is free to visit and runs for the next three years at the Science Museum in London.


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