“The engineering sector needs to see a fresh flow of new recruits to replace those leaving the industry. The current economic situation will not last forever, and when the economy recovers we need to have the skills in place to maintain a competitive, world-leading engineering industry. There are positive initiatives in place to encourage the next generation, such as the new University Technical Colleges. Industry and the education sector need to work together to promote the fulfilling careers paths that the engineering sector has to offer to young people. We also need to do more to attract the brightest and best into the sector, and to open up opportunities for young people to gain the practical experience needed to develop their careers in engineering.” (ACE Report Engineering Skills Shortages Dec 2011).

“We must ensure that we are training and equipping a steady stream of world class engineers in our education system. A growing economy will see a corresponding growth in demand for sufficient engineers technically qualified to service a whole range of UK industries – from nanotechnology to green energy production. This sets us a series of challenges in education and in the skills sector to ensure that we encourage more young people to take up a career in engineering.” (Rt. Hon. Vince Cable MP, Engineering UK 2011 Report).

Turning to the local picture, the Dartford area is due to grow substantially as part of the ambitious Thames Gateway Development. Dartford Borough’s plan through to 2026 predicts a 43% population increase and 17,000 new homes, plus up to a million square metres of new commercial and factory space. Even after expanding the existing 10 secondary schools, two additional schools are envisaged within 15 years.