STOP THE PRESS: is engineering suddenly becoming cool?

 

We all know that engineering is a notoriously difficult area to recruit into. And with an annual shortfall of engineering graduates of at least 20,000¹ and 69% of the 100 recruiters asked in Jobsite’s most recent survey stating that it’s hard to recruit candidates with the right skills and experience – no-one is trying to pretend otherwise. But, in that very same survey, Jobsite hints that there may be some positive news on the horizon.

Having surveyed 1,000 16 to 18-year olds, 1,200 engineers and over 100 recruitment professionals, there’s evidence that the tide is turning. Perhaps – at long last – we’re beginning to see signs that some of the work that large companies have been conducting to challenge perceptions and generally position engineering as a career path of choice is starting to reap some rewards. The stats would certainly suggest this is the case.

Apparently some 84% of teens believe engineering is a cool career choice, whilst 85% believe it’s a creative career choice. Some of the reasons these teens are attracted to engineering include the ability to solve challenging problems (57%); opportunity to build things (55%); career progression (42%) and salary (39%).

These views were backed up by the 1,200 current engineers surveyed who also cite rewarding work, job security and varied workload as the best parts of the job.

Sadly, it’s not all good news. Gender stereotypes still prevail (despite the valiant efforts of some of the biggest businesses around trying to counter that), with half of teens believing engineering is a male career choice. Although interestingly 77% of the engineers don’t agree; however, 40% of that same group feel that advertised roles are not helping and serve to reinforce these stereotypes. 50% also feel that engineering does not represent women adequately. And certainly, with only 1 in 8 of those in engineering occupations being women², there’s lots more work to be done.

And whilst the teens are more engineering-savvy than ever before, with 87% being aware of engineering as a career by age 18, disturbingly 63% of the teens surveyed were not aware of the qualifications needed to pursue it. Work experience would naturally provide some students with a way to explore chosen career options, yet 70% have not been presented with any opportunities for work experience in the sector.

Jobsite CEO Nick Gold said “Over the last decade, careers in tech have become aspirational. Now it’s time for engineering to revitalise its image and do the same. Through role models and high-profile projects, Britain’s teens are finally seeing that STEM careers are a way to satisfy a range of needs and make a real difference in society.

Our report highlights the need for recruiters and employers to demonstrate a clear path into these careers for young people today. Engineers we spoke to cite a range of routes into the industry, not just through degrees but also apprenticeships and on the job training. This proves engineering to be a very accessible career choice, regardless of academic strengths and background. Demystifying this is the key to attracting and nurturing the talent needed to fill the shortfall.”

¹ & ²  https://www.engineeringuk.com/media/1356/enguk_report_2017_synopsis.pdf

 

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

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