Institute of Refrigeration: New Focus on Youth Engagement

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Published: 15 December 2015


Gordon Duncan, IOR Project Manager for Youth Engagement, explains how the Institute of Refrigeration is developing its appeal to young people.

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.
The IOR is continuing the momentum of this project by providing a presence for the RAC industry at a number of exhibitions and fairs. It is also providing the tools and resources for members to reach out to schools and colleges to create a buzz about careers in the refrigeration industry.

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.​
Fantastic Fridges Website: www.fantasticfridges.com

Fantastic Fridges Facebook Page: 
www.facebook.com/fantasticfridges
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.
Following on from this initial research project, the IOR will be looking even deeper into youth engagement in the industry and comparing this to other engineering bodies and results in different countries. This new project aims to explore in much more depth some of the key issues such as:
  • 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
The purpose of the current work is to gain a deeper understanding of where the refrigeration industry needs improvement in delivering a younger, highly trained and skilful workforce to promote the industry as an exciting, prosperous and cool career option. The outputs are likely to be a better understanding of the industry’s workforce needs, the specific skills requirements of recently employed graduates and apprentices and requirements of teaching careers in refrigeration. It should also provide a clear direction for the Institute and its members for the future.

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, gordon@ior.org.uk