STEM

Young people’s perceptions of engineering are strongly associated with their parents’ opinion of engineering, according to EngineeringUK’s latest Engineering Brand Monitor. For the first time, the Engineering Brand Monitor (EBM) has linked the responses from over 4,000 young people and their parents. It highlights:

  • Young people whose parents said they know what engineers do were more than twice as likely to express an interest in an engineering career than those whose parents said they did not
  • 78% of young people whose parents said they regularly do STEM activities with their child said they were interested in a career in engineering
  • Nearly 9 in 10 young people whose parents said they were confident giving their child advice about careers in engineering said they were interested in a career in engineering.

It also suggests knowledge of what an engineer does and how you become an engineer as well as perceptions and interest in the profession, varies by not only by gender, but also socio-economic background, ethnicity and region. The report found:

  • Only 48% of girls say they know what engineers do, compared to 61% of boys
  • Young people from lower income families are less likely to be interested in engineering, with only 43% of young people from a lower income and level of education family reporting interest compared to 65% of young people from a higher income and level of education family.
  • Where you live can influence your knowledge of engineering pathways. Teenagers in London are twice as likely to know what subjects or qualifications they need to become an engineer than young people in the West Midlands (60% compared to 30%)

The engineering sector currently draws its skills from a very narrow section of society: only 16.5% of the engineering workforce are women compared to 47.7% of the entire national workforce and 11.4% are from minority ethnic backgrounds compared to 13.4% of the overall workforce.

Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, said: “As the world emerges from the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the need for engineering talent is intensifying. Ambitions to ‘level up’ the country and make the UK a science superpower and an innovation nation will be hugely dependent on our engineering and tech workforce, as will achieving net zero by 2050.

“Our research continues to highlight the need for more to be done to ensure engineering is, and is seen as, an inclusive career for all.

“Showing parents and young people first-hand the breadth of exciting engineering careers available will be paramount if we want to encourage more young people from all backgrounds to join the engineering workforce to meet the challenges of the 21st century.”

The report findings show there is a strong association between engagement in STEM activities and an interest in a future career in engineering, but access to such activities varies between schools, with those with higher numbers of pupils eligible for free school meals less likely to run STEM activities. In particular, 1 in 5 young people had not taken part in any careers activities in the past 12 months.

Evidence shows that young people who know more about what engineers do are more likely to perceive the profession in a positive way and to consider a career in engineering. It also shows that STEM outreach and education activities are critical in this context. Students who had attended any (one or more) STEM careers activity were 3.5 times more likely to know about what people working in engineering did than those who hadn’t attended any. They were also 3.4 times more likely than those who hadn’t attended a STEM careers activity to consider a career in engineering.

Other factors highlighted in the EBM include:

  • Just 56% of parents agreed they know about the different types of things engineers could do in their jobs
  • More than half of young people say they know about the things engineers do, and that they are interested in pursuing a career in engineering - but only two-fifths know how to get into engineering
  • More boys than girls see engineering as a good ‘fit’ for them, with the research finding that two-thirds of girls felt that girls face more barriers to getting ahead in engineering than boys
  • Similarly, more barriers were perceived for those from ethnic minority backgrounds and socially disadvantaged groups than their counterparts

The Engineering Brand Monitor is an annual survey of the knowledge, perceptions and understanding of engineering of young people, their parents, and teachers. For the first time responses from parents and young people aged 7 to 19 were linked together and the association between them examined. The survey was completed by 4,317 child-parent pairs between April and May 2021.

A separate report on the responses of teachers can be found on the EngineeringUK website

Education company EVERFI has launched four free digital courses in the UK, with more to come in the months ahead. All courses are linked to national curricula and have already achieved huge success in the US, with 2.8 million students having completed an EVERFI course in the last year alone.

What do Crystal Cities, Wonder Machines, and mysterious footprints in a garden have to do with science?

An education project which aims to bring the science of Martian exploration into the classroom is preparing for launch during National Astronomy Week (14-22 November).

On October 12th 2019, Eliud Kipchoge became the first person in history to break the legendary sub-two-hour marathon barrier, recording a time of 1:59:40.2.

What educators and employers alike have learned from lockdown is that you can underestimate how productive people can be when working or studying from home. With a comfortable workspace, the right tools, and a clear goal in mind, people are capable of accomplishing just as much without a physical place of work. When things were normal, distractions were inevitable, whether it’s the sound of heavy traffic outside the window, or taking a tense daily commute to work. And I say that at home right now while listening to construction work outside my window. Although a little background noise can help to restore that sense of normality we’ve lost, right? 

When it comes to teaching STEM, it is important to make learning as creative as possible for students, in order to boost their engagement and deepen subject knowledge.

The Great Exhibition at Home Challenge is a positive contribution to independent learning at home during this period of unprecedented Covid-19 disruption from the Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Big Ideas. 

I have lived an incredible journey becoming an engineer for Rolls-Royce, street-dancer, and a public speaker. My journey wasn’t always smooth though, and at one point I failed every examination at university because of the problems in my life. That’s when I decided to go totally out of the box and learned to dance.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that there is a massive skills shortage in STEM. Unfortunately, another common issue that you often hear about is the lack of females studying and working in computing and technology. In fact, females working in some areas of technology, such as data science, are sometimes referred to as unicorns because of how rare they can be in that area.

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