Three quarters of young people do not know what an engineer is

Over three quarters of young people do not know what an engineer does, according to new research.
Over three quarters of young people do not know what an engineer does, according to new research.
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Over three quarters of young people do not know what an engineer does, according to new research.

The UK has an annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers every year but 76 per cent of 11-19-year-olds do not know a lot about what those working in engineering do, according to EngineeringUK.

In addition, the majority of young people aged 11 – 19 ‘probably or definitely’ do not want to become an engineer (52 per cent).

Their parents need support in developing a greater understanding of engineering as well: 72 per cent of parents do not know a lot about what people working in the profession do, and yet 63 per cent of 11 – 16-year olds would consider going to their parents for careers advice.

The World Economic Forum has identified a number of jobs that will be in demand in the future and are crucial to shaping the world we live in for the better – and many of these important roles involve engineering, including new technology specialists, who will make solar and wind energy more flexible and reliable and information security analysts, who will make cyberspace safer.

While the research shows 42 per cent of young people aged 11 – 19 said that ‘making a difference’ or ‘having an impact’ would be an important factor to them when deciding upon a career, almost half had not ever thought about becoming an engineer.

The Royal Academy of Engineering is launching This is Engineering Day on November 6 as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. The new national awareness day aims to increase understanding of what an engineer is and to celebrate the roles that will contribute to shaping our futures.

Hayaatun Sillem, chief executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: “Engineering and technology play an incredible role in shaping the world around us and in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from providing a sustainable supply of food, water and clean energy, to advancing healthcare, and keeping us safe and secure. We know that young people increasingly want to tackle these issues and make a difference in the world, but unfortunately the lack of understanding around engineering is stopping them from exploring careers that will enable them to do this.

“This matters because we face an estimated shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers each year in the UK, and there is a pressing need to diversify our engineering workforce since only 12 per cent of professional engineers are female and less than nine per cent are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. That’s why we’re making 6 November This is Engineering Day, to raise awareness of what an engineer is and celebrate those that are shaping the world we live in.”

This is Engineering Day is part of the This is Engineering campaign, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering to give more young people, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to take up engineering careers.