In response to the current manufacturing skills crisis, the event, called a ‘Hackathon’, aimed to show how technology can play a huge part in finding future manufacturers and engineers.

The EEF event kicked off with an introduction, before BBC Click presenter, Kate Russell, led a masterclass on new, inspiring ways that firms can use tech to recruit talent.

Guests were then put into teams from different backgrounds. For example, MM’s Adam Offord was in a group with university students and representatives from companies including Fujifilm, the MTA and Estée Lauder.

Each team had three hours to come up with a new concept or idea that could be used to attract fresh young talent into industry, before showcasing their ideas in front of the other delegates at the end of the day.

An idea, posed by one group, was based around an app that linked young people to manufacturing and engineering employers. They could communicate via the app, view each other’s profiles, and discuss job opportunities and work experience. MM’s group came up with a live-streaming TV show based around engineering. Young people would submit their engineering ideas and some would progress to the next stage where they develop those ideas with industry. Then, in the live shows, the ideas would be shown, with a public vote picking the winner.

The winning group’s idea was an augmented reality game. The idea was that it could be rolled into schools for kids to play manufacturing games in AR, such as putting a car together. Players could challenge their friends in time trials.

Regardless of who won though, the day was a great way to think about how to attract young people into industry. As EEF's Verity Davidge said: “The UK requires 265,000 people to take up roles in engineering every year. Yet there is a shortfall in take-up. We want to position technology at the heart of a recruitment drive so it brings these variables together.”

Kate Russell gave tips for recruiting talent:

  • Be proactive – invite students to mentor days and establish a recruiting scheme
  • Be visible – initiate conversations online and in schools/colleges
  • Be flexible – talk about recruiting people and don’t design a list of ‘wanted skills’
  • Be creative – create content that will inform and entertain young people
  • Engage apprentices – talk to schools and colleges about offering high-quality alternatives to the university route