Calls for schools to drive engineering careers

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13th April 2016 16:01 - Engineering

According to The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, teachers’ influence over young people’s career choices should be better promoted and better recognised by the Government, to help drive engineering as a viable career path.Calls for schools to drive engineering careers

The Institution has published a report which calls for a reconsideration of the impact schools have in encouraging young people to pursue a career in the engineering sector.

The market research report also uncovered the findings from a survey of engineers, pupils, parents, teachers and employers, which showed that the teachers in the survey grasped the “breadth and diversity of engineering roles” the best out of the respondents from outside of the engineering industry.

The research report has been dubbed by the education policy adviser at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, Janet Clark, as an illustration of the issues brought up by having "a narrow academic curriculum”, which she claimed had been worsened by the UK Government’s education reform. However, Clark also stated that there are other issues which come hand-in-hand with fewer young people choosing a career in engineering, for example, a lack of physics teachers.

Clark said of the issue: “In addition, cuts to further education budgets of 35 per cent over the past five years, have inevitably put at risk the pipeline of young people working towards engineering careers in vocational settings.”

The market research explored the participants’ perceptions of the sort of work that engineers carry out and revealed that the respondents who were not employed in engineering “typically failed to see engineering as high-level intellectual design and development, in favour of technician roles”.

The report’s lead author and Head of Education and Skills at the institution Peter Finegold, said schools should keep a “broad curriculum” for pupils up to the age of 18 so that young people “wouldn’t have to make decisions to give up subjects before they really knew what they were”.

Finegold added: “We have an engineering skills shortfall at a time where technology looks set to increase its dominance over much of our lives.

“Our schools need to adjust to this reality, both by increasing the number and breadth of young people choosing engineering careers, and by empowering those who do not. This means ensuring that primary school children are taught not just about the natural world but also taught about the manufactured world too.”

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