The Elite Engineering Programme, a new private sector-funded initiative designed to encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering, has been launched today at BETT, the education and technology trade fair.

The programme aims to increase the number of talented young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to consider pursuing careers in engineering, and thereby address a future potential deficit of engineers in the UK.

It was launched in conjunction with LEGO Education UK & Ireland in partnership with the principal funder, the Helsington Foundation and the Royal Academy of Engineering, which is overseeing the delivery of the programme. It will be rolled out to UK schools later this year.

The Elite Engineering Programme will reach out to young people in state schools from the age of 10 by showing that the profession is a credible career path.

The programme has been created in response to the Academy’s report – Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy – which found that the UK must increase the number of science, technology, engineering and maths graduates to ensure there are enough engineers in the future.

  • A schools programme including LEGO MINDSTORM education sets designed to seed and nurture an interest in engineering through competitions in state schools from the age of 12.
  • University scholarships to make engineering a more attractive subject for students of any background to study, as well as opportunities to assume industry-based internships.
  • Visiting professors who are leading engineering practitioners to teach in universities and leave a legacy of teaching materials and industry-focused course content and contacts.
  • A fund to support UK university teams taking part in competitions such as Formula Student. These competitions have proven effective in motivating students and inspiring them to gather the knowledge and skills they need for a career in the industry.

Business Secretary Vince Cable says: "Engineering is fundamental to our economic progress, so it's critical we ensure there are sufficient engineers to meet future demand.

"The Elite Engineering Programme is a good example of British businesses working together for the good of disadvantaged young people and the UK and I commend their commitment and leadership here."

"We are working closely with industry and continue to look at various ways to support engineering at all levels, such as engagement in schools, apprenticeships and postgraduate training including Engineering Doctorates."

Matthew Harrison, Director of Engineering and Education at the Academy, said: “Engineering enterprise is vital for economic and social wellbeing. The Elite Engineering Programme will help break down the barriers to becoming an engineer and search in all sectors of society for the best engineering talent to help maintain this country’s pre-eminence.”

Notes for editors

  1. The Elite Engineering Programme is a joint initiative involving private funds and the LEGO foundation. The current partners are:
  • Graham Sharp, Founder of The Racing Steps and the Helsington Foundation. The Foundation was set up to create opportunities for disadvantaged, talented young people and enables high performing young people to experience higher education.
  • LEGO Education has delivered hands-on curriculum-based resources for teachers and students since 1980.
  • Professor Anthony J Purnell is a British entrepreneur and former Principal of the Jaguar and Red Bull Formula One teams. He is also a Visiting Professor of Engineering at the University of Cambridge.
  • The Royal Academy of Engineering.
  1. The Academy’s report, Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy is available:  Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy (2.26 MB)
  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

Sarah Griffiths at The Royal Academy of Engineering Tel. 020 7766 0655