Knowledge gap holds back future engineering talent

Only half of 11-14 year-olds would consider a career in engineering, with less than seven per cent planning to be engineers once they finish their education, according to Tomorrow’s Engineers Week research.

But while 44 per cent of those that wouldn’t consider a career in engineering blame not knowing anything about the industry, negative perceptions of engineering as boring and uncreative (17 per cent), oily, smelly and dirty (15 per cent) and factory-based (14 per cent), were also mentioned.

Girls in particular are not attracted to engineering as a career option. Some 65 per cent wouldn’t consider a career in engineering, 24 per cent of which don’t think that engineering is a suitable or attractive career for women. But parents of daughters hold similar views. Shockingly, 76 per cent of parents with girls haven’t encouraged their daughters to consider engineering as a career option.

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince Cable, said: “We want young people to have a strong interest in engineering-related subjects and activities, but this interest alone is not enough to inspire them to consider a career in engineering. 

“There is a lack of knowledge about the breadth, depth, range and quality of career opportunities in engineering. Government, employers, professional bodies and educators must join forces to inspire the next generation of talent.

“We must also improve our efforts to show girls and their parents that engineering is a great career choice for women. I am confident that the measures we are announcing today and over the months to come will have a significant impact on skills shortages and will future-proof this vital industry which is so important for the UK economy.”

The government has announced a raft of measures to address future skills shortages including

  • £30m fund for employers to bid for to address skills shortages in sectors with specific need;
  • £250,000 of seed funding to enable Tomorrow’s Engineers to accelerate the nationwide rollout of its employer engagement programme aimed at encouraging children in school to consider engineering careers; and
  • £40,000 to support the Daphne Jackson Trust to develop a new fellowship to support people returning to professional engineering jobs after a career break.

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