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Attracting graduates to power engineering in the UK : successful university and industry collaboration

Bell, K. R. W. and Fenton, B. and Griffiths, H. and Pal, B. C. and McDonald, J. R. (2012) Attracting graduates to power engineering in the UK : successful university and industry collaboration. IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 27 (1). pp. 450-457. ISSN 0885-8950

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The power industry in many parts of the industrialized world faces major challenges over the next two decades to renew ageing networks, accommodate new generation, especially renewables, and make grid operation “smarter”. This requires increasing numbers of professionals, but in many places, the industry faces great losses in personnel and experience as senior engineers retire. As a consequence, the industry needs to recruit a new generation of well-qualified electrical engineering graduates. This paper describes one particular initiative to attract school leavers into engineering and electric power engineering in particular: the U.K.'s “Power Academy”. The main features of the scheme and its success to date are described along with the new challenges and various issues that remain to be addressed. These include the need for “engineering leadership” and career progression for technical specialists. It is argued that companies' continued investment in schemes like the Power Academy is essential to meet the challenges faced by the power industry and to ensure a healthy future supply of professional engineers.