The Rt Revd Dr Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, challenged the UK’s leading engineers to recruit more young people to the profession to join the fight against climate change when he addressed The Royal Academy of Engineering in London on Monday evening 14 January.

The Bishop, who originally trained as an engineer and has a PhD in electronics, asked what currently energises and excites young people looking for a career. He identified climate change and energy supply as a top concern and urged the Academy to use this message far more strongly to bring new blood into engineering.

A recent Academy survey of over 400 engineering companies revealed that they are already finding it difficult to recruit graduate engineers and anticipate even more skills shortages in future. Network Rail’s problems in finding enough engineers to work over the New Year illustrate the problem, which will be exacerbated with the demands for construction of Olympic 2012 venues and possibly a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Dr Butler, a former university chaplain, says there is a real challenge in improving the uptake of science subjects in general at university and particularly in engineering and suggests that the profession has so far failed to make an impact. This is borne out by a recent Royal Academy of Engineering/Engineering and Technology Board survey by BMRB, which revealed that 2 in 3 young people know very little about engineering and almost 3 in 4 don’t understand what engineers actually do.

Notes for editors

  1. Dr Tom Butler, Bishop of Southwark, addressed The Royal Academy of Engineering at its annual President’s Reception on the evening of Monday 14 January 2008.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636