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Facebook launches UK mentorship programme for aspiring young engineers

Students will be provided with career guidance as the UK struggles to fill engineering roles.

Facebook has announced a UK mentorship programme to help children from disadvantaged schools across London in pursuit of an engineering career.

Some 120 aspiring engineers will have the chance to receive one-on-one mentoring from 30 of Facebook’s own engineers based at its office in the capital, with monthly sessions until June 2019.

As well as some time at the tech giant’s biggest engineering hub outside the US, participants will receive career advice and help with their CV, in a bid to encourage more children to take up a future in engineering and fill a UK shortage.

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120 aspiring engineers will be given career guidance from some of Facebook’s team based in London (David Jones/PA)

A recent report by Engineering UK estimated that the country has an annual shortfall of between 37,000 to 59,000 in meeting annual demand for 124,000 core engineering roles.

Facebook’s engineers in London are responsible for some of the social network’s biggest projects, including its Oculus VR product, its business-skewed version of Facebook called Workplace, as well as augmented reality camera effects used by users across the globe.

The move comes as Facebook joins the Government’s Year of Engineering campaign, joining forces with more than 1,400 other tech companies and partners to tackle a lack of diversity in engineering.

We have a problem with engineering at times, in that it is, unfortunately, predominantly male, it's predominantly white and in many cases it's ageing Stephen Metcalfe MP

On Friday, Facebook welcomed 100 aspiring engineers from years 9 to 11 for an open day at its offices in Rathbone Place, central London, to participate in workshops and come up with ideas on how to use technology to solve a problem in their school or community.

“We have a problem with engineering at times, in that it is, unfortunately, predominantly male, it’s predominantly white and in many cases it’s ageing,” said Stephen Metcalfe MP, envoy for the Government’s Year of Engineering campaign.

“But there’s a bigger problem, which is we are actually missing out on talent, that actually if people don’t see themselves as engineers we end up drawing our engineers of the future from the same pool, so I want each and every one of you to consider yourselves as a potential engineer, regardless of your gender, regardless of your background and regardless of your ethnicity.”

The move follows news in the summer that Facebook planned to more than double its office space in London, providing enough room for around 6,000 workers – although the company is yet to confirm the exact number of extra jobs it would bring to the capital.

“We’re proud to say we’ll be hiring hundreds more engineers this year as we continue to invest in the UK and as we expand, we want to encourage the UK’s next generation of talent as part of our support for Year of Engineering and through our new mentorship programme,” said Kyle McGinn, director of product at Facebook.

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