Press release

More young people want to be engineers after government and industry efforts to showcase exciting careers

A survey has found a sharp rise in the number of young people considering a career in engineering.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

There has been a sharp rise in the number of young people considering a career in engineering, Vince Cable announced today (15 February 2014).

A BIS-commissioned survey has found that the number of 11 to 14 year olds thinking about working in engineering has jumped by 6%. Significantly, the survey showed a 6% rise in the number of girls saying they would consider an engineering career, an industry that acknowledges the need to recruit more women. More parents (a rise of 4%) also said they would encourage their children to become engineers.

The increases followed Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, which ran from 4 to 8 November 2013, when government, employers and educators came together to enthuse young people, particularly girls, about the rewarding careers on offer in engineering.

Secretary of State for Business Innovation and Skills Vince Cable said:

It is encouraging to see that our efforts to highlight the importance of engineering as a career has had a positive affect and that more women and girls are seeing it as an exciting career.

As a country we excel in hi-tech industries but we need the engineers to maintain our competitive advantage. Government alone cannot solve this. We need to work with industry, universities, colleges and schools to keep momentum and guarantee the pipeline of talent so that businesses are not disadvantaged.

Chief Executive of EngineeringUK Paul Jackson said:

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week is an example of the positive impact that can be made when organisations work together. The week has proven an effective calendar item for raising awareness of engineering careers and EngineeringUK will be delighted to coordinate it on behalf of the engineering community in 2014.

Government and industry launched Tomorrow’s Engineers Week following the ‘Perkins Review of Engineering Skills’, which focused on the need to shore up the pipeline of skills throughout the whole engineering sector. Professor John Perkins found the challenges start when pupils are still at school and choose subjects following GCSEs. Engineers must have a strong foundation in maths and science, especially physics but the number of young people choosing these subjects post-16 is relatively low, especially among women. The government is addressing this problem through a redesign of the curriculum and teacher development.

BIS also announced a number of additional measures last year (2013) to address the shortage of engineers including:

  • £30 million fund for employers to address skills shortages in sectors with specific need
  • £250,000 of seed funding to enable Tomorrow’s Engineers to accelerate the nationwide roll-out of its employer engagement programme aimed at encouraging children in school to consider engineering careers
  • £40,000 to support the Daphne Jackson Trust to develop a new fellowship to support people returning to professional engineering jobs after a career break

Notes to editors

1.Research was undertaken by Vision Critical on behalf of BIS. The poll of 1,000 children aged 11 to 14 years and 1,000 parents of children aged 11 to 14 years based in England and Wales was conducted between 18 and 24 October 2013 prior to Tomorrow’s Engineers Week and between 13 and 17 November following the week. The research can be found at ‘Professor John Perkins’ review of engineering skills’

2.Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) took place from 4 to 8 November 2013 and aimed to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers.

3.Funding Partners for Tomorrow’s Engineers Week were: EngineeringUK, The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, and the Institution of Civil Engineers.

4.Wider partners included All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, Arup, Atkins, BAE Systems, British Science Association, Career Academies UK, The Edge Foundation, EEF the Manufacturers Organisation, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Facebook, GE Aviation, Girlguiding, GlaxoSmithKline, J8 Precision, Jaguar Land Rover, Little Miss Geek, Motorsports Industry Association, National Apprenticeship Service, National Careers Service, Next Generation Skills, Siemens, Sciencegrrl, Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd, Skills Funding Agency, the Skills Show, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, The Science Museum, STEMNET, Teach First, Teeside Local Government, UK Association for Interactive Entertainment, UKCES, the V&A Museum, the Women’s Engineering Society, Women in Science and Engineering, World Skills UK.

About the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

5.The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is the department for economic growth. The department invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business. BIS also protects consumers and reduces the impact of regulation.

6.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

7.BIS has recently announced a £400 million STEM teaching capital fund to tackle diversity challenges facing the engineering industry.

Published 15 February 2014