Prince Charles talks about the need for young engineers during visit to the University of Essex

Prince Charles, President of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community and Business In The Comm

Prince Charles, President of The Prince's Foundation for Building Community and Business In The Community, during a tour of Pandan Close in West Hanningfield, Essex, which is an affordable rural housing scheme developed by the Hastoe Housing Association following an initiative led by the two Prince's Charities to promote more affordable homes for rural communities. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday December 16 2014 Photo credit should read: Chris Radburn/PA Wire

The Prince of Wales spoke of the importance of getting more young people qualified in engineering jobs during a visit to the University of Essex on Tuesday.

12/12/2014 Prince Charles visits engineering event at Essex Uni
Charles talking to occupational ther

12/12/2014 Prince Charles visits engineering event at Essex Uni Charles talking to occupational therepists from the uni, Danielle Murgia and Kirsty Thomas. They were teaching him a form of sign language - Credit: Archant

Prince Charles’s visit was aimed at raising the profile of STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), while also coinciding with the university’s 50th anniversary.

The heir to the throne arrived at the Wivenhoe Campus by helicopter before he was driven to the Ivor Crew Lecture Theatre.

Excited students stood along the footpath hoping to get a glimpse of the Duke of Cornwall who, after greeting some of them, was introduced to dignitaries including the mayor and mayoress of Colchester, John Elliott and his wife Janet, Essex University vice-chancellor Professor Anthony Forster and Harwich and North Essex MP, Bernard Jenkin.

He then went indoors to an event called the Big Bang Fair, which included about 30 interactive stands and showcased careers that are available to people studying STEM courses.

He then went into an engineering workshop with headteachers and business leaders from Essex.

It was during the workshop that he discussed the need to get more young people qualified in engineering jobs, describing it as a “black hole”.

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He said: “We need to remind ourselves that in this country there are an awful lot of people that have technical and vocational skills.

“Teachers are the key to the whole issue around technical and vocational education and to be able to remind people through these workshops that there is another angle to life.”

Professor Forster added: “It is an enormous privilege for the university and for the Prince of Wales to show his support for STEM research and teaching by a Royal visit and is something we are all immensely proud of.”

Following the visit Professor Graham Underwood, the university’s executive dean for science and health, said he was proud that Charles had come and shown his support to both the Big Bang event and STEM subjects.

He added: “Prince Charles was able to talk to members of the university community, visiting school pupils, and staff and students from the University when he toured the Market Place demonstrations.

“This went extremely well, with genuine interest and excitement all around the event.

“His Royal Highness took part in a workshop between business leaders and head teachers and made an excellent speech about the need to enthuse and capture the interest of young people in engineering and science, and for educators and business to work together.”

Mr Jenkin said: “It is entirely fitting that our sovereign should be marking this 50th Jubilee year for the university which has become a university of academic excellence in so many fields.

“It has become a success story and one of the economic drivers for growth in Colchester.”

Nadine McFadden, vice-Principal and engineering teacher at Tendring Enterprise Studio school, said the Prince was easy to talk to.

“I was very fortunate he came to a workshop that principles were invited to and spoke to us as a group,” Miss McFadden said.

“I was just overwhelmed by the length of time we were able to him for. He knew about Clacton and Jaywick – I was very impressed by his level of engagement.”

During his visit to Essex yesterday, Prince Charles also visited a rural housing scheme developed by the Hastoe Housing Association in West Hanningfield.

When he arrived he was greeted by a crowd of flag-waving supporters.