By Claire West

Ninety per cent of 14 and 15 year olds know little or nothing about careers in engineering and technology, a study by Europe’s largest professional society for engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), has revealed.

Engineering also features outside the top ten career choices among the same age group; ranking behind hotel management. The top three are: lawyer in first place, teacher in second and professional sportsperson in third.

The results come from the first IET STEM research study and coincide with the launch of the new IET Faraday, the flagship STEM education programme for every secondary school pupil in the UK.

Jan Stapleton, head of Education 5-19, IET said: “I really expected the results to show young people had an increasingly positive view towards STEM subjects and the careers they can lead to. However, the first wave of results has shown that this is simply not the case despite the many activities and initiatives in this area in recent years. This is one of key issues highlighted in the recent Sainsbury review into the UK science and innovation system.”

She continued: “There is no magic solution to this problem; we must look at all our activities and initiatives to see if they are really making an impact with our pupils. Engineering brings wealth creation to the economy and it is imperative that the UK attracts more young people into engineering and technology to tackle the growing skills shortage.”

More than 700 pupils in years nine and ten from a selection of schools in England were surveyed and focus groups were held with pupils, teachers and educationalists. The primary objective of this research was to assess each group’s needs and requirements to help improve interest and uptake. This research is the beginning of a longitudinal study which will track the same cohort of pupils to assess changes in behaviour and attitude towards STEM subjects.

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