I agree with Fiona Payne (PE August) that often neither teachers nor careers advisers have the knowledge or the inclination to direct leavers into an engineering direction.
The answer lies in the ranks of STEM ambassadors, which I have populated as a retired engineer for the last 4 years. I got involved through the IMechE website, which is probably still one of the best entry routes. Dozens of half or whole-day assignments have been carried out since, some originating direct from the IMechE, and others through regional organisations such as Connexions (now a defunct QUANGO), or the several semi-privatised successors. Obviously as a current employee, you will need to get your employer on board, but they will see this as an investment for the future, particularly if like many, they are struggling to employ suitably trained engineers.
My own experience has been tremendously varied, but on the whole encouraging, particularly as there has been a marked increase in the interest in a career in engineering in the last year or so. Events can be: manning a table at a careers fair, giving a talk during a similar event, answering questions at a "meet the professionals" day etc.
I think the following response from a 10 year old summarizes the satisfaction I have obtained:
I am writing to tell you about Bruce. He came into our school in October and in small groups we asked him questions about his job. He taught us loads! In our groups we discussed about various things to do with engineering. He said that he worked on a nuclear submarine reactor. COOL. We asked him do only men work as engineers, he said no. Bruce said that you need to be good at maths, physics and have a interest in engineering. You need to do four years at university (he highly recommended London) and complete your GCSE’s and A Levels. Bruce said that there are many types of engineering like aeronautical engineers and civil engineers. Aeronautical engineer is an engineer that fixes/makes aircraft. Civil engineer is a engineer that designs and builds buildings. I am really, really, really good at Lego and stuff like that. When I was little I made planes and cars with big building blocks but they're the same. I still have Lego at home. I think that engineering is really fun. Please let Bruce come back because I learnt a lot. From: Sufyaan, Year 6
I would strongly recommend this path to any engineer who wants to give something back to the profession.
Bruce Dagley, Bowdon, Altrincham