Amazon Director of Consumer Retail, Fiona McDonnell, shares This Is Engineering Day article about encouraging young people into engineering

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Fiona McDonnell: Amazon inspires next generation of engineering

Fiona McDonnell: Amazon inspires next generation of engineering

 November 04, 2019

To support This Is Engineering Day, a campaign led by the Royal Academy of Engineering in collaboration with EngineeringUK, Amazon's Director of Consumer Retail, Fiona McDonnell, penned an article for London's City A.M. on how Amazon is inspiring the next generation of engineers.

"When I was a teenager growing up in the 80s, I can clearly remember the 'practical' lessons at school, and the satisfaction of building things – like my first ever circuit to power a lightbulb. These moments undoubtedly shaped my choice to become an engineer," Fiona comments.

However, Fiona reminds us that not all young people get the inspiration needed to find their career shaping moments, or the support to build on them. Fiona asserts that industry needs to improve awareness of engineering and the various routes into the profession. 

Fiona McDonnell Amazon UK

Finding talent with the right skills

Despite engineering being vital to the UK economy, EngineeringUK reports that 46 per cent of UK engineering employers have difficulty recruiting talent with the right skills.

"I believe part of the challenge lies in updating our definition of 'engineering'. It’s not just hard hats, spanners, and cables – the reality is that almost every industry requires engineers in one form or another. Yet outdated misconceptions about the career create barriers, preventing the diverse workforces that we desperately need," writes Fiona. 

"Stereotypes, language and imagery used when talking about innovation and engineering play a huge part in profiling what it means to be an engineer or innovator. We need to take a step back and ask: are we focused on fixing these misconceptions and changing assumptions? Ignoring this much-needed change will be costly."

No single face of engineering

Fiona says it is important to show more young people what engineering really looks like, and why it could be a rewarding path for them. She reminds us that there is no one type of engineer - many different people with different qualities can excel in the industry. 

"Ask Alexa today what an engineer looks like, and you may be surprised. Visit one of our fulfillment centres, and you may see robotics workshops being run for schools. We are committed to playing our part, aiming to reach and inspire more than a million young people in low-income communities through Amazon Future Engineer," Fiona adds.

"There is no single face of engineering. Only by challenging outdated views and preconceptions will we be able to ensure a healthy future for the UK industry."

Read Fiona's full article on City A.M.

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