How COVID-19 is making STEM cool for careers, according to new IET research

29 July 2020

STEM graphic_580x280
STEM graphic_580x280

New research by the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) has revealed that young people have taken inspiration from healthcare professionals & engineers during the Covid-19 pandemic to enhance their perceptions of real and life changing engineering & science to consider these roles for future careers.

Executive summary
52% of 10-18-year-olds surveyed say they are now considering a career in science & technology, after witnessing engineers rapidly design and build ventilators and convert buildings into hospitals, in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 64% are now looking at a career in medicine, after being inspired by NHS workers, while 82% agreed that science should play a greater role in the decisions made by the government. Encouragingly, Doctor (34%), inventor (30%) and engineer (23%) were considered cooler careers ahead of a TV presenter (19%).

The research
Witnessing the outstanding feats NHS workers and engineers have performed in tackling the pandemic, 63% of those aged 10-18 now have their eyes opened to pursuing a career in medicine.

Over half of children (52%) surveyed are now feeling inspired to consider a career in engineering, after seeing how engineers were mobilised so quickly to answer the call to design and build life-saving ventilators, as well as convert buildings into much-needed hospitals.

As the UK slowly tries to return to normal, the research also revealed that 82% of the young people surveyed believe science should play a greater role in government decisions.

Science, technology, engineering & maths (STEM) has now evolved to become a cool career to consider, with kids putting doctor (34%), inventor (30%) and engineer (23%) as the coolest careers, ahead of being a TV presenter, which only scored 19%. Children who said they were inspired by NHS workers or engineers during the Covid-19 crisis explained their main motivations behind this prospective career choice would be to save lives (59%), improve people’s health (47%), do something that benefits society (42%) and work in a field others respect and value (40%).

However, the challenges of tightening the gender gap in STEM still remains, with just 42% of girls saying CV19 has inspired them to consider careers in engineering, compared to 60% of boys. This a problem that has long been stubborn, with EngineeringUK research showing currently just 12% of those working in engineering occupations are women.

Ying Wan Loh, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year said: “The results from this new research are really positive. Despite the extremely challenging time the UK has faced over the last few months, it’s really encouraging to know that young people have been inspired by those working in STEM during the pandemic and are now considering careers in these fields.

The Covid-19 outbreak has showcased our fantastic medical professionals, scientists and engineers who have been working so hard to find solutions. It’s put them front and centre during the crisis and raised awareness of how important STEM is to our daily lives. I know firsthand that working in STEM offers fantastic experiences, with opportunities to make a real difference.

About the research:
The research for The Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) was carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout 10/06/2020 to 18/06/2020 among a panel, resulting in 1,003 people aged 10-18 responding. All research conducted adheres to the MRS Codes of Conduct (2010) in the UK and ICC/ESOMAR World Research Guidelines. Opinion Matters is registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office and is fully compliant with the Data Protection Act (1998).

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