Science and maths teachers don't rate engineering careers

A fifth of science, engineering and maths teachers do not believe engineering is a desirable career path for young people, a report out today warns. By Louisa Peacock, editor, Telegraph Jobs.

The findings paint a bleak picture for the engineering and manufacturing sector in theUK, because experts warn that young people's perceptions of careers are shaped from an early age in school.

A study by Engineering UK found 21pc of teachers saw engineering careers as being "undesirable" for their students.

The report said: "Clearly, there is some more work to be done in order to increase the uptake of enrichment and enhancement activities by STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] teachers and to improve their sector knowledge, thereby pre-disposing them towards recommending engineering careers."

A body of evidence suggests that some teachers, like pupils, do not know about the careers available in eningeering and picture the work being "dirty", "aloof" and "boring".

But the Government must work to change this if it wants more young people to take up the career, Engineering UK said.

Its new report, published today, reveals the engineering sector generated £1.15trillion in turnover for the year ending March 2010, nearly 25pc of turnover of all businesses in theUK.

The industry employs 5.6m people across more than 500,000 different businesses.

Paul Jackson, chief executive of Engineering UK, said: "We need to get the message to every parent, teacher and young person in the UK: ‘take physics and maths!’

"We must make sure our children keep their options open in order to be able to play a role in this growing industry. If a lack of skilled workers means that we can’t take advantage of emerging technologies, the industry and the jobs will go elsewhere."

He added: "One of our underlying challenges is to re-invigorate public perception about what it means to be an engineer in the twenty-first century.

"From large infrastructure projects like Crossrail or next year’s Olympics, to the massive impact at a microscopic level of robotic surgery or blood monitors that will help diabetes sufferers, there are numerous excellent opportunities to showcase UK feats of engineering.”

The report shows that engineering is central to driving economic growth and plays a major role in helping to tackle global challenges, including climate change, health, food and energy security.

The challenge for the engineering, manufacturing and science sectors is to develop and exploit emerging technologies, Mr Jackson said. But the UKcan only achieve success in these fields if future graduates have skills rooted in maths and the sciences, he warned.

Business minister Mark Prisk said: "As this report shows, engineers will be at the forefront of our rebalanced economy, which is why we are working now to encourage young people to think about a career in engineering.

"Our See Inside Manufacturing initiative, where we open doors to factories so people can see what modern manufacturing is actually like, and the Make it in Great Britain campaign where we will be showcasing the best of British manufacturing at the Science museum during the 2012 Olympics, are both aimed at changing people’s perceptions about what modern industry is like.

"That way, we can inspire our young people to be our inventors and engineers of the future."

This article was originally featured on telegraph.co.uk/finance/jobs

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

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