The Year of Engineering: school students’ increasing STEM aspirations

05 March 2018

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Research shows that young people are now more inspired career-wise by Mark Zuckerberg than David Beckham. This is just part of BAE Systems research in light of their nationwide STEM initiative: the Schools Roadshow.

Almost a quarter of young people (23%) aspire to a career similar to Mark Zuckerberg over celebrities like David Beckham (9%) and Kylie Jenner (9%). Maths is deemed to be the most valuable subject for future career prospects among 14 to 18 year-olds, followed by English and science.

BAE Systems, the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy launch this year’s Schools Roadshow 2018 to inspire future science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) leaders, driving further engagement with STEM and maths.

According to BAE, a quarter of 14 to 18 year-olds said they would rather follow in the footsteps of innovator Mark Zuckerberg (23%) or tech genius Bill Gates (28%) for careers over household names such as Ed Sheeran (17%), David Beckham (9%) and Kylie Jenner (9%).

The study has uncovered a surprising shift in perception of STEM among young people, revealing that over half of 14 to 18 year-olds (56%) deem maths to be the most valuable subject for future career prospects, followed by English (50%) and science (42%). Two thirds (62%) of those currently studying STEM have also said that they are likely to carry these subjects over to university.

The findings have been released as BAE Systems, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy come together again to launch this year’s nationwide Schools Roadshow. Alongside The Royal Academy’s #ThisIsEngineering campaign, the roadshow, now in its thirteenth year, aims to inspire and instil excitement among school pupils around STEM – in what is the largest ever schools programme of its kind.

Credit: BAE Systems Resources

This year’s Schools Roadshow focuses on maths, with a series of workshops and demonstrations to showcase various applications of the subject, from robotics and coding through to the use of maths in iPhone technology.

The study’s findings could be attributed to the increase in the number of STEM advocates in the public eye in recent years, as the top ten people who 14 to 18 year-olds are most inspired by, when thinking of their future career, are revealed as the following:

Bill Gates (28%)

Mark Zuckerberg (23%)

Steve Jobs (22%)

Professor Brian Cox (18%)

Ed Sheeran (17%)

Tim Peake and Jessica Ennis (both 14%)

Zoella (12%)

Jennifer Lawrence and Beyonce (both 11%)

Jeff Bezos (10%)

Kylie Jenner and David Beckham (both 9%)

Not only are young people seeing the value of STEM for their future career, maths is also unveiled to be the most enjoyable subject (45%), followed by English (40%) and science (39%), while media studies was the least enjoyable (9%).

As Richard Hamer, BAE Systems’ education and early careers director, says: “It is great to see more young people considering a degree or career in STEM.

“Initiatives like the Schools Roadshow are so important… to ensure we continue to excite young minds and inspire the next generation of scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians.”

Credit: BAE Systems Resources

Commenting on the roadshow, Captain Dave Joyce of the Royal Navy said: “The Royal Navy is delighted to be supporting the BAE Systems education roadshow again in 2018. [STEM covers] vital skills underpinning both our technologically-advanced navy and the UK economy as a whole. Making these subjects fun and interesting at school is essential to ensure that children are keen to become the engineers and technicians of the future.”

Air Commodore Peter Squires of The Royal Air Force added: “We are proud to celebrate our 10th year of partnership in the Schools Roadshow Programme and we look forward to… our shared endeavour to enable both boys and girls to fulfil their potential.”

Now in its thirteenth year, the Schools Roadshow, BAE Systems’ flagship education programme, will be heading to 420 schools in 2018, reaching 95,000 young people.

Further images from the Schools Roadshow launch event are available from the following link:

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