We've learnt recently that although growth in job vacancies hit the fastest rate in 15 years in November this year (the strongest demand being for engineers) and the UK unemployment rate is at its lowest since 2009, the availability of candidates to fill permanent and temporary posts fell in November; a continuation of the recent trend.
It's also an unfortunate fact of recessionary Britain that, with each vacancy often drawing hundreds of applicants, it's largely safe to say there are fewer jobs than there are job seekers. There are, of course, a few notable exceptions and - given a certain understandable bias on my part - it's pleasing to note that the engineering industry is one of them.
The challenge now is for schools, universities, business and Government join us in making sure that the potential engineers of the future are informed, without prejudice, of all the opportunities available to them. We need to work together to provide the advice and support all young people need to make informed decisions at an early age.
In choosing a future career, do you find yourself torn between balancing your creative nature, your love of words and communication with an interest in science and technology? Do you dream big and feel you might be capable of bringing people together to navigate difficult decisions that have to be made in pursuit of the solutions to the great global challenges posed by poverty, economic crisis and climate change?
Startling research released to mark the start of Tomorrow's Engineers Week should be a wake up call to employers, educators and the engineering industry to encourage more young people into engineering careers. Everyone who is passionate about apprenticeships, the future of our economy and young people's careers should be concerned that our school children may be rejecting engineering as a career choice because they don't know enough about it. Girls in particular aren't attracted to engineering as a career option.
Last week, I completed my job swap with the Skills Minister, Matthew Hancock MP, by showing him where I work at our BAE Systems Military Air & Information site at Warton in Lancashire. I took him on the journey of life as an apprentice, showing him where I began, the skills I learnt and where I completed, three and a half years later...
In a design workshop yesterday, I suddenly realised I wasn't trying. I wasn't contributing to the process by suggesting solutions, I wasn't listening. As soon as this struck me, I leaned forward, started thinking and got involved. Afterwards I felt very happy and left the meeting feeling lighter and much more positive about life. I also felt determined not to let that happen again!
The IAC is giving learners something they have not had before - a national voice. The changing landscape of apprenticeships in this country, as Government endeavours to secure the vocational route as a central pathway into fulfilling careers, requires input from those who will be affected - the apprentices themselves.
Here we are, five months into the Government's much-lauded Green Deal, and yesterday the DECC revealed its first monthly progress report on the scheme. Although Greg Barker MP made a sterling effort of spinning the results to look encouraging and positive, I would imagine the embarrassingly diminutive numbers were actually somewhat difficult to admit to.