STEM subjects on the rise at A Level, new IET research reveals

18 August 2022

New research from the IET also reveals that the gap between the proportion of girls and boys who want to pursue STEM careers is shrinking.

Today on A Level results day, the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) is celebrating the newest crop of STEM (science, technology, engineering & mathematics) enthusiasts taking their talents into further study.

It comes as new research from the IET shows that 61% of young people between the ages of 15 and 20 selected STEM subjects as part of their A Level choices, with over half of those (51%) intending to pursue a career in STEM.

The new IET figures reveal 68% of young people surveyed said they based their A Level choices on what subjects correlate with their future career goals.

However, 5% weren’t sure what careers STEM subjects could lead to clearly there is still work to be done in identifying and making those opportunities known to young people.

While STEM subjects may be on the rise at A Level, there are still some concerns around why some young people choose the subjects that they end up studying.

Worryingly, 1 in nine (11%) took A Level subjects to keep their parents happy, while the same number opted for subjects with fewer exams and coursework (11%).

However, it’s not all doom and gloom. Traditionally a more male-dominated field, almost half (47%) of girls surveyed are interested in pursuing a career in STEM.

Though it may still be a higher number of boys (58%) that are showing interest, the gap is shrinking, showing more positive steps in the right direction when it comes to young people considering STEM careers.

David Lakin, IET Head of Education, Safeguarding & Education Policy commented: “Students have done extremely well given the disruption faced over the last two years and as the first time they have taken exams since the start of the pandemic.

Comparing to the last time exams were taken, it’s positive to see the increase in results across maths, the sciences, ICT, computing and DT, which are all key engineering gateway subjects.

Maths also remains the most popular A Level subject. These results, coupled with our new research, shows that there is a real appetite for STEM learning and STEM careers with young people – we now need to harness this and make sure we turn it into young people studying STEM subjects at university or via an apprenticeship, and going on to apply for STEM roles in the future.

The UK more broadly is experiencing a shortage of engineers, so there is a real need for more young people considering STEM careers and gaining the right balance of education, work experience and relevant careers guidance to pursue careers in the industry.  

It must also be remembered that university is not necessarily the best route for all students aspiring to become engineers. Apprenticeships, including degree apprenticeships, as well as T Levels post GCSE, are just as strong qualifications when entering the engineering workforce.

These hands-on vocational courses provide students with the training and experience they need to become problem-solving, skilled workers, ready for the future of work.

There has never been a better time to get involved in STEM. A career in engineering and technology provides an exciting opportunity to make a difference by improving our world and shaping our future, touching every part of our lives.

For more information about a career in engineering, please visit: https://education.theiet.org/secondary/careers/


About the research
The research for the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET) was carried out online by Opinion Matters throughout 11.08.2022 - 11.08.2022 amongst a panel resulting in 502 children/young adults [aged 15-20] who are planning to do A Levels or who have already taken A Levels responding.


Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page