‘Cause for optimism’ on youngsters' perceptions about an engineering career

An annual survey by EngineeringUK gives ‘cause for optimism’ about young people’s perceptions of an engineering career, with the proportion of 16 to 19-year-olds who would consider such a career up by 8 per cent from 37 per cent in 2016 to 45 per cent in 2019.

Meanwhile, the the latest annual ‘Engineering Brand Monitor’ survey’s results reveal, 80% of STEM secondary teachers and 68% of parents believed an engineering career would be desirable for their pupils or children. Other significant findings included boys ‘having more positive views of engineering than girls, even in primary school’, and salary ranking as an important factor in young people’s career choices, in fact over and above ‘enjoyment’, ‘job security’, and ‘something that challenges me’. While young people who attend STEM outreach events are more likely to know what engineers do, just a quarter of those surveyed had attended such an event.

The survey – which sought the responses of over 2,500 young people, 1,000 STEM secondary school teachers, and 1,800 members of the public – also ‘showed compelling evidence that STEM outreach can and does work’; young people attending a STEM careers activity in the previous year were over three times as likely to consider a career in engineering than those who had not. However, says EngineeringUK, ‘work is still needed to improve young people’s knowledge, perceptions, and understanding of engineering, particularly among girls’. The organisation said: “There are clear gender differences across the board, with girls being less likely than boys to know about engineering, to view it positively, to consider a career in the industry, or know what to do next in order to become an engineer. They are also less likely to believe they could become an engineer if they wanted to.”

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said: “The Engineering Brand Monitor provides a unique insight into how STEM is viewed by young people, educators, and other influencers. The latest results reveal that young people place high importance on ‘having an impact,’ and ‘being valued’, when deciding upon a career; STEM outreach should emphasise the great and wide-ranging contributions engineers make to society. As salary also ranks as an important factor for young people when choosing a career, compelling and accurate salary and labour market statistics should be a key part of careers advice and guidance.”