Survey reveals 47% of 11 to 19 year-olds know 'little' or 'almost nothing' about what engineers do

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27th July 2020 01:17 - Engineering

Survey reveals 47% of 11 to 19 year olds know 'little' or 'almost nothing' about what engineers do: A survey has revealed that there is still a significant lack of awareness when it comes to engineering amongst young people, with almost half the 11 to 19 year-olds polled saying they do not know much about what engineers do - if anything at all. 

Research by Engineering UK titled, Engineering UK 2020 Educational pathways into engineering, found that in 2019, fewer than a quarter (23.5%) of 11 - 19 year-olds had spoken to a careers advisor about the possibility of pursuing a career in engineering.

The survey also revealed insight into why many young people choose an alternative direction to a STEM pathway, with 62.2% of 16-17 year-olds saying they believe STEM subjects such as maths or science are more difficult than others. 

When asked about their knowledge around the steps they would need to take in order to pursue a career in engineering, a little over two-fifths of boys (42%) said they know what to do next, while for girls it was even fewer (31%). 

The survey also asked students (11 - 19 years-old)  about their perceptions of engineering as a career, with half the respondents polled (49.9%) saying they have positive perceptions, however the proportion of boys was much higher than for girls (59.5% vs 39.7%). Two-fifths said they see engineering as 'desirable', which breaks down as 49.2% of boys and 32.1% of girls. 

Asked what helps with positive perceptions of engineering, 57.6% said 'family', followed by 'perceptions of salary' (57.1%), 'science exhibitions' (56.2%), 'course tutors' (55.3%), 'engineering activities in school' (55.3%) and 'careers advisors coming into school' (55.2%).

Other answers given included 'science programmes on TV' (55%), 'Internet' (54.6%), 'speakers coming into school' (54.6%) and 'prestige' (52.6%). Almost half said their perceptions were influenced by friends (47.6%), while celebrities influenced a little over a quarter (28.5%).

Read the report: Engineering UK 2020 Educational pathways into engineering


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