Last week, Education Secretary Michael Grove confirmed that the engineering diploma rating would be downgraded from 5 GCSEs to one. This will have far reaching ramifications for not only the students who have sought a career in engineering, but also the firms, like PRV, that seek out the most qualified engineers from the graduating classes. The reported move was precipitated by the belief that since not all vocational qualifications are equal, it is unfair to offer them the same inherent value.
Read this reaction from Stephen Tetlow, Chief Executive of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said in response here.
On the surface, this might appear to be a fair assessment for other fields of study, but when it comes to engineering, it is a far different landscape than any other vocational degree or concentration. The reasoning behind this move is due to the complaint that there are far too many schools that are relying on engineering vocational courses to boost their standing within the educational league. More prestigious schools, it appears, have been offended by these other programs congesting their rolls with basic engineering courses to gain esteem.
However, engineering firms are up in arms over this move and claim that it will impact their ability to hire the most qualified applicants. Engineering, in a vocational avenue, has been under assault in recent years because of the unfounded belief that certain engineering students do not have the same academic qualifications to earn their degree as others that may circulate through another type of school program.
Not all successful engineering students have been academically gifted or inclined, but that has not hindered their abilities to become accomplished engineers in a variety of fields. Firms like PRV have long known that the value of an engineer isn’t in the basic academic work that he or she performed during their school years, but in their ability to navigate and comprehend the often complex nature of engineering itself.
These engineering firms have built a positive reputation through their ability to hire the best and most talented young engineers. However, the reliance on academic grades and accomplishments to measure one’s abilities, talents, or potential has been, for far too long, widely used and relied on, especially by universities and vocational programs that focus on those factors to the exclusion of all others.
By reducing the value of an engineering diploma, the government will not only create a more difficult challenge for engineering students as well as the firms that hire them, but it will also continue to erode the reputation of engineers as a whole. Gaining respect has been a long and uphill fight for engineers and this latest move will only hamper the progress that has been made in recent years.