Barry Clarke says industry can use major projects to increase the numbers of young people coming into the profession

Olympic Stadium - Populous

The new president of the Institution of Civil Engineers has called for more action to inspire a new generation of civil engineers.

In his presidential address last night Barry Clarke said that more needed to be done to encourage young people into the profession.

“Minor infrastructure maintenance, right through to delivering major future projects such as HS2 and whole scale restructuring of our energy infrastructure over the next 10-20 years, cannot happen without engineers,” he said.

This year saw a 12% drop in the number of engineering degree course applications despite estimates from the Royal Academy of Engineering showing that the UK will need a total of 656,000 engineers working in 2020.

Clarke, who is a professor of Civil Engineering Geotechnics at the University of Leeds, added: “The road ahead is challenging, but it is also filled with opportunity at every turn. We – the industry – must do more to engage with young people, improve their understanding of civil engineering and inspire them to consider it as a career. It’s the only way we as a profession can continue to deliver the infrastructure that society so badly needs.”

He said projects such as the Olympics, the Forth Bridge and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge could be used to inspire the next generation of engineers.

But he added that engagement needed to start at an early age, adding he wanted to see more young graduates had not volunteered for the ICE’s mentoring program.