Talent in the Pipeline: Workshop of the World Inspires the Next Generation of North East Engineers

November 18, 2015

STUDENTS were shown a window on the world of innovative engineering when they spent the day inside an iconic Tyneside factory.


Left to right – Tim Rutter, director of defence manufacturing services at Pearson Engineering, Ria Varma, 14, from Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School and Ethan Perry-Tyrell, 14, a student at Harton Technology College, South Shields

North East family firm Reece Group teamed up with UK charity the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) to give 30 engineers of the future the chance to see for themselves the wide range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, maths) careers available.

The EDT brings educators and industries together to give young people inspiring hands on experience of engineering and build a skilled future workforce.

Reece Group, led by chairman John Reece, is a holding group for a number of engineering companies operating in the defence, oil and gas, power generation, subsea and construction markets. It recently reopened the Armstrong Works in Newcastle after a £20m investment and is committed to investing in young people with over 10% of its workforce on apprenticeships.

The EDT’s Routes into STEM taster programme offered the group of Y10 students from across Tyne and Wear an insight into both graduate and apprentice routes into engineering as well as practical experience as they were tasked with designing and making their own product during the day.

They had spent the previous two days carrying out activities in both Newcastle College and University of Northumbria, to show students the different and valuable experiences both institutions offer.

The programme is unique in that it looks at apprentice and graduate career pathways on a level playing field and gives students the benefit of face to face meetings with role models, to supplement their own research into the many science and engineering careers available

They were also able to gain an insight into the work of the group’s companies: Pearson Engineering, Responsive Engineering, Pipe Coil Technology, Velocity UK and Reece Innovation.

Tim Rutter is director of defence manufacturing services at Pearson Engineering, a global leader in the defence industry, designing and manufacturing products including counter IED systems that saved lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Tim, a STEM Ambassador for the company, said: “We wanted to provide a window onto the life of an engineer and also showcase the wide range of roles within an engineering business from the shop floor to design engineers and business administration.

“We want to inspire the next generation of engineers and there is no better way than to see engineering in action for yourself.”


Ethan Perry-Tyrell, 14, a student at Harton Technology College, South Shields meeting Scott Jose, Responsive Engineering

Liam Weatherill, North East regional coordinator for EDT said: “The support of companies like Reece Group in hosting EDT projects is vital in opening up the world of engineering to young people and showing them the wide range of opportunities available.

“By investing their time in young people now, companies are helping to create that skilled workforce of the future that the North East and the UK desperately needs. By working together with schools, businesses can be part of the solution to the skills gap.

“As the day in the Armstrong Works has shown engineering is about solving problems with science and can range from designing a product with a pen and paper or working on the computer, through to using complex machinery on the shop floor.

“We want to expand that small word engineer into the vast range of careers and opportunities it offers.”

Ethan Perry-Tyrell, 14, a student at Harton Technology College, South Shields, said: “I wanted to come on the course as I am really interested in science, but didn’t know a lot about what being an engineer really meant.

“Now I know about the massive number of different types of opportunities there are.

“I especially liked working on the design side of things and with computers, but it was really interesting to see inside the factory too and see all the different roles.”

“Ria Varma, 14, from Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School said: “I really enjoyed the tour of the factory and seeing people working on all the different types of products.

“It has also been interesting to learn about designing products and to see how to put your science knowledge to practical use and also to see how much opportunity there is to be creative.”

This EDT programme is one of many STEM related projects supported through the Reece Foundation, a Reece family trust, chaired by Anne Reece, which has donated £15m to good causes over the last 10 years.

Reece Group CEO Phil Kite said: “The skills shortage is a serious problem, not just in the North East but around the UK.


Ria Varma, 14, from Newcastle’s Royal Grammar School meeting Matthew Brown, Responsive Engineering

“Over 10% of our employees are apprentices and we train them well so that at the end of their four year apprenticeship they are well-trained, dedicated employees with a bright career ahead of them.  There are also graduate opportunities available within the group.

“Gender imbalance in engineering has not gone unnoticed and we are working on several projects with schools and universities to correct the disparity. Female engineers are a largely untapped resource and we are delighted to have a number of female students on the EDT programme.”