A Step Towards a Career in STEM

Matchtech’s Confidence Index found that two in five respondents would consider moving abroad for work in the next five years.  My message to them would be ‘you won’t have to’. UK engineering companies are projected to have 2.74 million job openings by 2020, 1.86 million of which will need engineering skills. From large infrastructure projects like Crossrail, to the massive impact at a microscopic level of robotic surgery or blood monitors that will help diabetes sufferers, there are opportunities in every realm of engineering.

The showcase’s shortlisted entries show that, while it’s rebalancing our economy, engineering is also at the heart of our global responsibilities. For example, the Eco Car helps to highlight engineering’s role in finding sustainability and environmental solutions; Fast Track embodies our zeal to improve practices for increased effectiveness and ultimate output; and the Robot Swarm demonstrates the important role engineering can play in making things safer - saving lives.

Job prospects in engineering are a good news story. However, if we are to meet industry’s demand for engineers, we must have engineers with the right skills. We need approximately 87,000 people with level four qualifications (including foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate degrees). Currently the UK produces only 46,000 engineering graduates each year. There will also be demand for around 69,000 people qualified at advanced apprenticeship or equivalent level each year. Yet only around 27,000 UK apprentices a year currently qualify at the appropriate level.

I hope great projects like these will not just help to raise the ambitions of those already pursuing engineering careers, but will inspire young people just starting to think about their future career. Ensuring our future engineering talent-pipeline must start in schools. We must be aiming to double the number of young people studying GCSE physics as part of triple sciences and grow the number of students studying physics A level to match those studying maths.

All 11-14 year-olds should have access to face-to-face, robust and consistent careers information advice and guidance that promotes the diversity of engineering careers available and the variety of routes to those careers, combined with opportunities to experience the workplace. Through our programmes The Big Bang and Tomorrow’s Engineers, EngineeringUK aims to reach every young person in the UK with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) engagement.

We are working with the engineering community to join up our outreach activity to ensure we reach as many young people as possible with effective STEM education. Working with Professional Engineering Institutions, we aim to provide the quality careers information and resources needed to ensure young people can make an informed next step towards a career in STEM – and to becoming the showcase stars of the next decade.

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