Engineers are natural born problem solvers – but there is one big problem which is proving harder than most to tackle.

The water industry is heading towards a skills crisis. We know it is coming, but what can we do to fend it off?

The Royal Academy of Engineering says Britain needs more than a million new engineers and technicians by 2020. And to achieve this we need to double the number engineering graduates and apprentices – no small feat.

What’s more just eight per cent of our engineers are women. So we’re failing to appeal to young people in general, and girls in particular are mostly ignoring this vital profession as a career path.

Around a third of Anglian Water’s workforce will retire in the next decade and we need a plan for how we’re going to replace them. That’s why we’re investing in education now and we’re also looking for ways to inspire youngsters.

The Greater Peterborough University Technical College is a new school opening this year specialising in Engineering and the Built Environment. The £10million building will be packed with £2million worth of equipment once it opens in September enabling it to provide a world-class technical education for 14 year olds embarking on their GCSEs, and 16 year olds about to start A-levels and further education.

Anglian Water is not just a sponsor of the college – we’re supporting it on every step of the way and we’ll be guaranteeing job interviews to the students who successfully complete their studies there.

The state of the art building in Peterborough is a fantastic venue for us to inspire young people and show them that engineering is an exciting and rewarding choice. Tomorrow (February 17) we have invited all our major contractor partners there to be part of an engineering recruitment event – bringing young people face to face with the big names in the industry and giving them a real taste for what they could achieve.

record infographicThen over two days on Thursday and Friday (Feb 18th and 19th) we are inviting young people from schools in our region to the college to help us break a world record. We’re aiming to build the tallest freestanding structure made entirely of paper – a pyramid of connecting tubes. It’s a challenge that we think will stretch all the skills a budding young engineer needs to succeed, and it has the potential to make a real splash in the local press and on social media as well so we can reach those who have not yet considered this as a career.

But there’s more we need to do – going out into schools and communities, finding new ways to spread the message online and in the media and creating regular opportunities for youngsters to be inspired. Because if we don’t we’ll be creating a problem for the next generation which even our brightest minds will not be able to solve.

  • The recruitment event is taking place at the Greater Peterborough University Technical College, Park Crescent, Peterborough, PE1 4DZ on Wednesday 17 February from 3pm to 8pm. Anglian Water, Balfour Beatty, Barhale, Grontmij, MWH, Mott MacDonald Bentley and Skanska, who make up the Anglian Water @one Alliance, will be there with jobs on offer.
  • For more information on the Greater Peterborough University Technical College visit the website at gputc.com

We had a trial run of the record breaking attempt at St Helena School in Colchester recently. Here’s what happened…