Hitachi Rail is launching a brand new educational programme with Primary Engineer that will see 2,700 5 to 11-year-olds learn about engineering with the help of experts in the field.
The announcement came after Rail Week (last week) and the initiative is part of the Year of Engineering campaign.
It aims to help tackle a serious shortage of engineers in the UK. On current projections, there will be a gap of 55,000 engineers and skilled workers by 2020, according to the Strategic Transport Apprenticeship Taskforce, with not enough qualified people to deliver key national projects like HS2, Heathrow expansion and Crossrail 2.
The scheme will eventually see 50 schools from Ashford, Doncaster, Bristol, Newton Aycliffe and West London partner with engineers from Hitachi’s nearby train depots.
This week the teachers in the first four locations are receiving their training and this will be followed by a further session at Hitachi’s train manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, where new fleets of trains are being delivered for passengers across the country.
This is the first time that Primary Engineer has partnered with a train manufacturer to develop one of its school programmes.
The global rail giant recognises the importance of working with schools to raise awareness of the range of exciting careers that are available in the industry.
It chose to partner with Primary Engineer due its excellent work over the last 13 years creating engineering programmes spanning Early Years, Primary, Secondary and Further Education institutions.
During the joint sessions the teachers and the Hitachi team will learn how to deliver a curriculum-linked rail engineering project that a whole class can take part in. The KS1 project will use a shoe-box train while KS2’s train will be electrically-powered.
The project supports practical STEM learning (science, technology, engineering and maths) and offers primary pupils an invaluable opportunity to work directly with Hitachi engineers in the classroom.
There is also a competitive element to spark the children’s engineering ingenuity and creativity.
And as a forum to celebrate their engineering skills and achievements, teams of pupils from the schools will attend two celebration events in 2019 run by Primary Engineer to test the rail vehicles and showcase their efforts with the Hitachi Rail engineer judges.
Year of Engineering Minister, Nusrat Ghani, said: “The Year of Engineering is a chance to show young people that engineering is all around us – from how we keep in touch to the ways we travel.
“Working in partnership with industry and the education and charity sectors to inspire young people from all backgrounds is at the heart of the campaign, and this new programme from Hitachi Rail and Primary Engineer is a fantastic demonstration of what that can achieve.
“By bringing children across the UK face to face with real engineers and engineering challenges, I have no doubt that the programme will inspire many young inventors, creators and problem-solvers to take a closer look at the amazing ways they could shape the future as engineers.”
Hitachi Rail managing director Karen Boswell said: “We are absolutely committed to developing UK skills in order to grow our business and support the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
“To be able to give thousands of young people a chance to be inspired by the pioneering work we do at our factory and depots across the country is fantastic.
“STEM education is critically important and I’m thrilled that Hitachi Rail is the first train builder to join in a partnership with Primary Engineer to support the great work they do in our schools.”
Founder and chief executive of Primary Engineer, Dr Susan Scurlock, said: “The opportunity to work with Hitachi Rail using their trains and engineers to inspire children, teachers and the wider community has been incredible.
“We are very proud to be taking this project into schools and opening a whole new area of careers to young people.”