Technology must sit at the heart of a recruitment drive in manufacturing, according to EEF hackathon

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  • EEF, The Manufacturers’ Organisation launched its first ever hackathon to encourage its members to make greater use of technology to harness future recruits in the field 
  • EEF teamed up with expert and regular on BBC Click’s technology show Katie Russell, who offered participants a bespoke tech masterclass, as well as a her top 5 tips for recruiting future talent. Watch the video here:
  • The unique event featured a range of creative minds including  designers and technology experts, students from University of Westminster and Harris Academy, apprentices, and a host of EEF members including Williams F1, Fuji Films and Estee Lauder 
  • Here’s a link to view the round-up video:


With the manufacturing and engineering sectors in the UK needing to attract 265,000 new recruits annually by 20241, EEF – The Manufacturers’ Organisation hosted its first ever hackathon to tackle the problem of how to we get more young people into the industry.

The trade body challenged a coalition of its members, experts and young people to find new, creative methods of using technology to trigger a recruitment drive in the field at the hackathon, in Shoreditch, East London. 

EEF’s members were out in force with representatives from iconic British firms including Williams F1, Japanese photography giant Fuji Films and prestigious cosmetics brand Estee Lauder, taking part, working with pioneering computing and technology experts, students from the University of Westminster, and a mix of apprentices and 6th form pupils from Harris Academy.


Founder of Mobile UX London, Naveed Ratansi, hosted the hackathon and teamed up with technology expert, reporter and regular on BBC Click, Kate Russell, to provide an informative masterclass for the audience. This identified key changing technology trends such as the growing use of digital assistance with facial recognition, and covered interesting technological breakthroughs over the past five decades.

Attendees were than split into groups of mixed backgrounds and were asked to solve the recruitment crisis. One entry devised an app that easily connects pupils and students with local manufacturing firms, by creating an online profile on their GPS location, interests and grades. Another set about designing a Facebook Live-style TV show whereby the hosts would challenge STEM-related groups and local youth clubs to record and submit their very own life hacks, with the winner chosen by the public.

The eventual winner of EEF’s hack day clinched the best idea prize by setting out to influence and inspire new generations to challenge the conventional perceptions of engineering. The group produced an augmented reality app that merges engineering to the interests of each pupil. The team pitched the winning idea in Dragon Den’s style environment to judges reporter Kate Russell, Programme Director at University of Westminster Savraj Matharu and EEF’s Chief Strategy & Corporate Development Officer Mark Bernard, while the others teams watched on. 


As well as sharing her wealth experience with the participants and mentoring each group, Kate provided her top five tips to help capture the hearts and minds of would-be future engineers, via the use of technology. These include the following:

1.    BE PROACTIVE: Technology is at the forefront of all manufacturing businesses, so why not invite local schools and Universities in for regular mentoring sessions. Before you know it, you may have a long line of switched-on creative knocking at your door for work experience, an apprenticeship or full time job.

2.    Be Visible: Harness the skill and enthusiasm of your staff by sending them out as careers ambassadors into local schools and universities. For example, create staff or ambassador-led conversations on Live Streaming platforms like Facebook and Twitch, building an archive of careers advice content for anyone interested.

3.    BE FLEXIBLE: In today’s jobs market it pays to cast your net wider than just academic qualifications. Why not invite potential candidates to a webinar or live stream broadcast where they can discuss in more detail with you what the requirements of the job are and what training you might be able to offer to help them skill up to the role.

4.    BE CREATIVE: If you want to attract creative people, the best way is to be creative. This can take many forms, from creating content like video guides and editorial features to publish on your website or YouTube channel, to outreaching to interest groups and online clubs, via forums and platforms like Facebook and, to even creating a fun, interactive Easter egg hunt on your website

5.    ENGAGE APPRENTICES: The message about apprenticeships being an invaluable career option isn’t getting through to schools, colleges and universities at the moment, and if we can’t do that we can’t get through to young people and their parents. Therefore, firms need to ensure any the digital content you’re creating about your business is used to approach schools careers departments in a bid to attract the very best apprenticeship talent. Make sure they know an apprenticeship is an option, especially degree level apprenticeships.

Technology expert Kate Russell said: “There’s no doubting that technology can act as the perfect conduit between manufacturing firms and future potential employees. A number of disruptive brands are reshaping the way we date, order food to even watch TV, and there is no reason why engineering firms can’t emulate these methods. Whether it be a gamified jobs board or a simple regular Facebook Live led by a member of staff, the possibilities are endless, and it’s just a matter of firms adapting a new, modern way of reaching out.”

Verity Davidge, Head of Education & Skills Policy at EEF: “The UK requires 265,000 people to take up roles in engineering every year. Yet, there is a shortfall in take-up, which triggered a concern that there is a clear disconnect between education, manufacturing firms and young people. With this in mind, we want to position technology at the heart of a recruitment drive so it brings all those variables together.

 “The way in which companies communicate with and recruit young people is changing, and instead of making these decisions on our own or alongside our members, we’ve called in a team of experts and students to add their vital insights. We didn’t expect a one-size fits all solution, but we did expect a room full of captivated minds which in turn will to change the way that firms connect to young people.”

EEF is the representative voice of British manufacturing, both in the UK and Europe – fighting for more than 6000 direct manufacturing members, and its other affiliate bodies means that in total it represents around 20,000 manufacturers across the UK.  To find out more about the hackathon, wider work undertaken by EEF or to view Kate Russell’s top 5 tips for recruiting talent, visit EEF’s website, Twitter or Facebook page.



For more information, please contact Cow PR –  / 020 7234 9150

Notes to editors 

1.     Report released by EngineeringUK: The State Of Engineering (2017)


Media Team 020 7654 1576

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