National day for engineering announced to combat narrow perceptions of profession among young people
13 September 2019
Engineering could be one of the most poorly understood careers in the UK, according to new research. The Royal Academy of Engineering has highlighted that misconceptions about engineers and lack of understanding of the profession means young people are missing opportunities to make a difference to our world.
Engineering could be one of the most poorly understood STEM careers, with new research from EngineeringUK showing that over three quarters (76%) of young people aged 11 to 19 do not know a lot about what those working in engineering do – and this could have far-reaching implications for all of us.
Indeed, according to the World Economic Forum, there are many engineering roles that will be crucial in positively shaping our future society and protecting our environment. However, the UK still has an annual shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers every year (according to EngineeringUK's 2018 flagship Engineering UK: The state of engineering report), and research shows that the majority of young people aged 11 to 19 ‘probably or definitely’ do not want to become an engineer (52%).
Their parents need support in developing a greater understanding of engineering as well: 72% of parents do not know a lot about what people working in the profession do, and yet 63% of 11 to 16-year olds would consider going to their parents for careers advice.
The World Economic Forum, in its The Future of Jobs Report 2018, has identified a number of jobs that will be in demand in the future and are crucial to shaping the world we live in for the better – and many of these important roles involve engineering:
• New Technology Specialists, who will make solar and wind energy more flexible and reliable by advancing energy storage capacity so that we can store vast amounts of energy from renewable sources to help us meet peak demand, mitigate future energy crises, and move away from carbon-emitting fuels.
• Information Security Analysts, who will make cyberspace safer – for example by preventing cyber-attacks or developing blockchain technologies that enable authenticated and transparent digital voting.
• Software & Applications Developers and Analysts, who will, for example, enhance virtual reality (VR) for use in healthcare. Engineers are already developing virtual reality healthcare systems, complete with treadmills, to help people with Parkinson’s improve mobility, and exploring applications of VR that help sufferers of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stroke.
• Innovation Professionals who will, for example, provide access to clean water in the developing world, and improve water efficiency in developed countries through new strategies for reducing water use.
While the research shows 42% of young people aged 11 to 19 said that ‘making a difference’ or ‘having an impact’ would be an important factor to them when deciding upon a career, almost half had not ever thought about becoming an engineer.
With the ambition to turn engineering from one of the most poorly understood, into one of the best understood and in-demand careers, the Royal Academy of Engineering is launching This is Engineering Day on the 6th November as part of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. This is Engineering Day is a new national awareness day to increase understanding of what an engineer is and to celebrate the roles that will contribute to shaping our futures.
Hayaatun Sillem, Chief Executive of the Royal Academy of Engineering, says: “Engineering and technology play an incredible role in shaping the world around us and in addressing some of society’s biggest challenges, from providing a sustainable supply of food, water and clean energy, to advancing healthcare, and keeping us safe and secure. We know that young people increasingly want to tackle these issues and make a difference in the world, but unfortunately the lack of understanding around engineering is stopping them from exploring careers that will enable them to do this.
“This matters because we face an estimated shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers each year in the UK, and there is a pressing need to diversify our engineering workforce, since only 12% of professional engineers are female and less than 9% are from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds. That’s why we’re making 6 November This is Engineering Day, to raise awareness of what an engineer is and celebrate those that are shaping the world we live in.”
This is Engineering Day is part of the This is Engineering campaign, led by the Royal Academy of Engineering to give more young people, from all backgrounds, the opportunity to take up engineering careers. More information on the campaign can be found at www.ThisisEngineering.org.uk and @ThisisEng on Twitter.
About the research
Research carried out by EngineeringUK. Data from the 2019 Engineering Brand Monitor captured in Jan-Feb 2019, based on a sample of 2,516 pupils aged 7-19, 1,023 educators and 1,810 members of the public.
The same research also found 65% of young people aged 11 to 19 don’t know a lot about what those working in science do, and 68% don’t know a lot about what those working in technology do.
About This is Engineering
This is Engineering is a campaign to raise awareness of the breadth of careers in engineering, and help address the significant engineering skills and diversity shortfall that is holding back growth and productivity across the UK economy. The campaign aims to give more young people, from the broadest possible backgrounds, the opportunity to take up an exciting, engaging, rewarding and in demand career.
This is Engineering is led by the Royal Academy of Engineering, in collaboration with EngineeringUK. The campaign has been made possible thanks to the generous support of the Fellows of the Royal Academy of Engineering and its corporate partners. More information about the campaign is available at www.ThisisEngineering.org.uk and @ThisisEng
Founding Principal partners
Principal university partners
University of Leeds
University of Oxford
Major university partners
Anglia Ruskin University
Imperial College London
University of Exeter
University of Southampton
About the Royal Academy of Engineering
As the UK’s national academy for engineering and technology, RAE brings together the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business – its Fellows – to advance and promote excellence in engineering for the benefit of society.
RAE harnesses their experience and expertise to provide independent advice to government, to deliver programmes that help exceptional engineering researchers and innovators realise their potential, to engage the public with engineering and to provide leadership for the profession.
RAE has three strategic priorities:
• Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation and businesses
• Address the engineering skills and diversity challenge
• Position engineering at the heart of society
RAE brings together engineers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, business leaders, academics, educators and the public in pursuit of these goals.
Engineering is a global profession, so RAE works with partners across the world to advance engineering’s contribution to society on an international, as well as a national scale.
EngineeringUK is a not-for-profit organisation, which works in partnership with the engineering community to inspire tomorrow’s engineers and increase the talent pipeline into engineering. EngineeringUK leads engagement programmes The Big Bang and Tomorrow’s Engineers, creates inspiring engineering careers resources and produces a body of research including the flagship State of Engineering report.
About Tomorrow’s Engineers Week
Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek19) takes place from 4-8 November 2019 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers and to inspire future engineers. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is led by EngineeringUK, a not-for-profit organisation which works with the engineering community – employers and professional institutions – to inspire tomorrow’s engineers. To find out how to get involved, visit www.tomorrowsengineers.org.uk/teweek
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