• Companies Cling to the Hard Hat to Promote Engineers – Engineering Students not Impressed

    Sainsbury Management Fellows Hard Hat Index - 2013 to 2016Sainsbury Management Fellows’ 2016 Hard Hat Index reveals the resilience of the hard hat as the symbol of engineering. Despite leading figures in the engineering community and engineering students calling for the hard hat to be banned from promotional and educational material, it remains dominant, giving the wrong impression of the role of an engineer according to SMF.

    Four years into SMFs’ tracking, the use of hard hats in the engineering media is as high as the previous year’s Index, with 257 images appearing in the 17 titles monitored over 12 months. This figure is also the highest since the Index was launched in 2013.

    The current SMF Hard Hat Index shows:

    Split between advertising and articles: The 257 hard hat images include adverts and articles published in the targeted engineering titles. The overall figure has increased each year and this year’s 257 images represents a 39% rise on the 2013 results.

    Sainsbury Management Fellows Hard Hat Index Editorial Hard Hats Chart - May 2015 to April 2016 Tracking

    Split between advertising and articles: The 257 hard hat images include adverts and articles published in the targeted engineering titles. The overall figure has increased each year and this year’s 257 images represents a 39% rise on the 2013 results.

    Sainsbury Management Fellows Hard Hat Index Advertising Hard Hats Chart - May 2015 to April 2016 TrackingHard Hats more prevalent in articles: Editorial leads the way in its attachment to hard hats. An all time high of 158 hard hats were recorded in this year’s Index, a 5.33% increase over last year.  The number of hard hats featured in articles since the Index began has increased exponentially – when comparing 2016 to  2013, there is a 135% increase in hard hat articles.

     

    Advertising presents a glimmer of hope: While the combined figure for advertising and editorial has not fallen, the use of hard hats in advertising has ebbed and flowed over the four years and this year experienced a decline of 7.47% – 99 hard hat advertisements in 2016, compared to 107 last year.

    Some titles shine: Six different publications didn’t use either adverts or editorials featuring hard hats during the monitoring period.

    David Falzani, President of SMF which runs an MBA scholarship scheme for young engineers said, “The Hard Hat Index points out how the engineering community is choosing to represent itself in terms of image and emotional value. Generations Y and X are far more image and brand conscious than before. Image and emotional value are vital in our ability to attract, inspire, recruit and retain bright young people. This is a serious national challenge which we must all embrace.”
    Engineering Students Critique Job Ads and Create Ad Briefs

    Sainsbury Management Fellows Hard Hat Index Engineering Student Workshop at RAEng

    To get a deeper understanding of reactions to images in engineering recruitment ads, SMF conducted a workshop with engineering undergraduates. Seventy students competing for an Engineering Leadership Advanced Award from the Royal Academy of Engineering took part in the workshop. The vast majority of the 30 advertisements reviewed fell into the negative category with only 20% of them receiving some positive feedback. The advertisements deemed better did not rely on stereotypical images of engineers, for example, adverts by Dyson and Saudi Aramco.

    Engineering Student Advertising Workshop ReportThe engineering undergraduates identified the following image problems, saying many of the ads were unattractive and uninspiring:

     

    • No photos to visually communicate about the jobs
    • Photos that present a stereotypical image of engineers including hard hats
    • Photos that were too technical or irrelevant to the job being advertised
    • Generic library photos

    David Falzani concluded, “Engineering professionals, institutions and students are  saying that stereotypical images of engineers need to change.  Our Hard Hat Index creates the opportunity for us to keep the debate alive and highlight the downsides of using  inappropriate images to represent engineers.”

    For full size photos and PDFs of the images in this article visit the Online Press Room

    1. The Hard Hat Index charts (PDF)
    2. Hard Hat Index photos (JPEGS)
    3. Student Job Advertising Workshop output (PDF and JPEG)
    4. Photos of the Students at the Workshop

    Notes 

    The SMF Hard Hat Index is compiled by tracking the number of advertisements and articles that feature hard hats in 16 print and one online engineering publication.  The 2016 SMF Hard Hat Index monitoring period ran from May 2015 to April 2016.

    The Advertising Job Advertising Workshop Report undertaken by 70 engineering  undergraduates shows the positive and negative feedback  as well as the students’ views on how to construct more effective advertisements.

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