Engineers among Britain’s most trusted professions, according to Ipsos MORI poll

27 November 2019

IET_Ipsos MORI Veracity Index_Female noise & vibration engineer designs air purification devices [copyright © This is Engineering]
IET_Ipsos MORI Veracity Index_Female noise & vibration engineer designs air purification devices [copyright © This is Engineering]

Engineers are the 5th most trusted profession from a list of 25 in Great Britain, according to market research company, Ipsos MORI's latest Veracity Index – the longest-running poll on trust in professions in Britain, having been asked consistently since 1983.

The Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) worked with the 2019 Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, which has been tracking the latest movements in Briton’s trust in key professions since the 1980s, to include engineering for the second year running.

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,020 adults aged 15+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted face-to-face between 18 and 27 October 2019, with data weighted to match the profile of the population.

The engineering profession, which makes up 19% of the UK workforce, according to Engineering UK's State of Engineering 2018 report, is trusted to tell the truth by 86% of the population, joint with professors and just behind only nurses, doctors, dentists and teachers (and just ahead of scientists, judges and members of the armed forces).

Trust is especially high amongst Britain’s graduates (95%), which is vital because of the need for increasing numbers of qualified engineering professionals across the UK.

Reasons for trusting engineers include being experts on the things that they talk about (49%) and that they turn theory and ideas into things that work in reality (41%).

New for this year, the survey also asked Britons what ‘engineer’ means with a list of descriptions. 54% of respondents would describe them as someone who builds bridges, roads or railways, with 49% describing them as someone who designs things for the future, 47% a problem solver and 28% an inventor.

While the description that an engineer is someone who fixes your home appliances (30%) appears in the list, perhaps surprisingly, the description that an engineer is someone who wears a hard hat and dirty overalls appears much lower (13%).

Mamta Singhal, design engineer & spokesperson for the IET, said: “Engineers play a central role in everyday life and contribute to advancing the world around us and finding solutions to global challenges. It’s fantastic to see that nearly 9 in 10 people trust engineers – this demonstrates the huge level of professionalism and importance of engineers in the UK.

It’s positive to see the reasons why they are trusted and to know that the stereotypical image of an engineer in a hard hat and dirty overalls isn’t what an engineer means to most people. This will help us to further shift outdated perceptions of engineers and the work that they do, encouraging the next generation into an inspiring and rewarding career.

Some other professions did not fare so well in the survey. At the bottom of the trust league, and dropping five percentage points from last year’s survey, is politicians generally (14%) – perhaps not surprising in the current political climate – followed by perennial low performers, ad execs (17%), government ministers (17%), journalists (26%) and estate agents (30%).

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