Less than a quarter of young people understand what engineers do (and it's adding to the talent shortfall)

A significant proportion of young people do not know what a career in engineering entails, new research from EngineeringUK* has revealed. It’s a reality that has “far-reaching implications”, according to the Royal Academy of Engineering.

The EngineeringUK research found that a whopping 76% of 11-19 year-olds do not have a good idea of what engineers do. Now the problem with this is that when surveyed, 52% of the same group said they “probably or definitely” did not want to become an engineer – a trend that is thought to be adding to an annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers each year.

Unfortunately, it’s a similar story when it comes to parents’ knowledge of engineering, with 72% admitting they don’t fully know what engineers do.

But perhaps most troubling is the percentage of teachers who know “a lot” or “quite a lot” about what engineers do. In fact, the number fell from roughly two-thirds in 2013 to just a third today.

Ironically, when asked what was important when choosing a career, 42% of 11-19 year-olds said having a positive impact on society and the environment was number one.

With software developers, innovation professionals, new technology specialists and information security analysts all expected to play significant roles in solving problems like water efficiency in developing nations and renewable energy storage, the engineering industry should be attracting more future talent than it is.

In an attempt to increase understanding and advocate the value of careers in the engineering industry, the Royal Academy will be launching This is Engineering Day** on November 6 during Tomorrow’s Engineers Week***.

As well as boosting awareness about engineering careers, it is hoped that This is Engineering Day will also encourage more diversity in the industry. At present, just 12% of professional engineers are female and less than 9% are from minority ethnic groups.

* https://www.engineeringuk.com/
** https://www.thisisengineering.org.uk/
*** https://www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk/

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