Ben Bartle-Ross explores an environmental programme that can encourage new blood into the industry

I took my daughter to work with me the other week although it wasn’t a ‘bring your child to work day’ but an open environmental awareness session that Mitsubishi Electric put on to inform and educate primary-age children into the importance of saving energy and looking after our planet.

The Learning Curve is a half-day session designed by my excellent colleagues which looks at renewable energy and recycling, and challenges the children to really think about the energy they and their families use in everyday life.

The programme has already reached out to tens of thousands of children right across the country as we now offer it to schools near to our regional offices, as well as our Hatfield headquarters.

A partnership with the Wigan Warriors Foundation has also seen The Learning Curve message reach thousands of children in the North West.

Let’s show them the great career potential they can develop in our industry

Ben Bartle Ross Ben Bartle-Ross Technical trainer

Focus on the future

For us as a company, we see two important goals in this programme.

First, we are helping the energy consumers of tomorrow understand why they need to think about all the energy and water they consume and highlight the things they and their families can do to help protect the environment.

Secondly, we use simple, fun experiments in the programme, which link to the national curriculum to get their young minds thinking and hopefully, this will have the knock on effect of getting them interested in engineering in general, and our industry in particular.

Diversity

Lord knows we could do with some new blood, couldn’t we? And a bit of diversity of the sexes wouldn’t go amiss as well.

As a trainer, I see hundreds of engineers a year and whilst I am noticing slightly more females coming along to the courses, especially on the heat pump side, the profession is still very heavily male-focused.

I don’t see as many of the trainees coming straight out of school and choosing HVAC as a profession though.

And this is reflected across the engineering sector as well, so what can we all do to make sure we continue to have the numbers of young people entering our profession?

It’s not a bad job is it? I for one really loved my time ‘on the tools’ and especially the problem solving to make things work properly.

In terms of career development as well, it is fairly easy to transfer from being out in the field, to sales, technical support, or management, if that is where you want to end up.

STEM the tide

We also take The Learning Curve to various local STEM events (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) to encourage secondary-age children to think of choosing the industry as a career.

If we can engage with them at an early age, we can show them the value of what our industry does for society and the great career potential they can develop in our industry.

Yes, we could do with more support for apprentices from government and there’s probably more that the industry could and should do to come together to achieve this.

In the meantime though, we all have to find ways of making sure there is a steady flow of new talent coming along.

As for my daughter, well part of having her in the office for the day meant that she also had to sit quietly through a short technical meeting on Hybrid VRF.

She was very well behaved, bless her … and she could probably now fit a Hybrid branch controller box to a system with the correct pipe sizes!

Ben Bartle-Ross is technical trainer at Mitsubishi Electric delivering courses on both air conditioning and heat pumps.