Since 2013, when the Institute of Refrigeration launched its “Youth Engagement Project”, working with young people and students, it became a major agenda item for the IOR. As an industry, it has been estimated that only 10% of the workforce are aged between 18 and 24. This represents a risk to the future of the industry to make sure there is the right level of talent coming through.
The IOR Youth Engagement project was set up to combine the efforts of various industry initiatives and schemes and offer a single point of contact through the IOR to encourage interactivity and sharing of expertise and successes in engaging more young people in this rewarding career.
One of the highlighted events was the Big Bang Fair in 2015, where the IOR collaborated with Cool Science UK, to promote refrigeration as a cool career choice. For more information about how they achieved one of the most popular and interesting stands at the fair see the videos and pictures at: www.coolscience.org.uk
As part of the IOR’s focus on youth engagement; Fantastic Fridges, the website and Facebook page, was relaunched this year. A platform where youngsters can play fun and insightful games, partake in interactive refrigeration quizzes whilst giving them the option to share their scores, the quizzes and more on their own Facebook accounts.
My involvement with the IOR started with a 6 months internship, working on a market research project, profiling the industry and membership. The aim was to gain insights from members about their perceptions of the benefit of belonging to a professional institute, how they want the IOR to support their career development at different stages and the impact for the future of the industry.
I talked to over 100 members on the phone, at committee meetings and events and found their enthusiasm for their industry and willingness to share their views encouraging.
Looking at a statistical analysis, a key finding from the initial research was that more and more young people are starting to join the Institute – potentially the result of the past few years of working with colleges and universities to raise the profile of refrigeration. The challenge now will be to ensure that they are provided with the right development opportunities and links to pursue their career in refrigeration.
- Whether there is a curriculum and skills gap in education and apprenticeship schemes,
- The media hype behind the lack of interest in engineering careers,
- Innovative learning techniques including alternative methods such as e-learning and community collaboration,
- How, as a membership institution, the IOR can better support the industry’s progression across the whole range of member needs
If you have experience in recruiting young people, graduates, apprentices or careers initiatives and would like to get more involved in this project please contact me: Gordon Duncan, firstname.lastname@example.org