There is a significant skills shortage affecting the engineering industry at the moment, one that is impacting many businesses. A report by the Institute of Engineering and Technology highlights that STEM sectors - science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - are experiencing a shortage of around 173,000 workers, and close to half of engineering businesses are finding it difficult to recruit skilled workers.
This is why encouraging young people to pursue an engineering career is so important, which starts in primary and secondary schools. There are a number of ways to encourage young people into engineering careers and the government has already taken steps in the right direction, but there is more that can be done.
4 Key Ways Young People are Being Encouraged to Consider an Engineering Career
1. Getting Them Interested in STEM From a Young Age
There are a lot of organisations that are already encouraging STEM education from a young age, and it’s something a lot of young people are taught in school. The aim is here to support schools in inspiring young people to be interested in STEM, and helping them to deliver a high quality education that teaches them the skills needed to pursue a career in engineering. For example, the Institute of Engineering and Technology is offering free lesson plans and educational videos aimed at those aged between 5 and 11.
Children can also get interested in STEM outside of the classroom, and parents can encourage children to play in a way that helps them to develop key skills. There are specific toys aimed at this, such as coding robots, but a whole host of toys can work in a similar way.
2. Encouraging STEM Subjects in Young Women
Women are underrepresented in the world of engineering, with only a small percentage of the sector being made up of women. There is a gender gap within the industry, and it’s thought that this is due to stereotypes. According to Women in Tech, STEM subjects are generally portrayed as being subjects better suited to boys. With fewer girls taking STEM subjects at school, there are few women who have the skills needed to branch out into an engineering role later on in life.
By encouraging young women to embark on computer science and technology subjects, they will learn the skills needed to begin a career as an engineer.
3. Encouraging Low Socio-Economic Students to Choose STEM Subject
According to research conducted by In2ScienceUK, students from low socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to choose STEM subjects at school. For example, they can be up to 2.2 times less likely to take triple science as a GCSE subject. There are a number of factors that could play into this, including differences in counterculture and student interests.
To help combat this, the government has started a variety of schemes aimed at encouraging underrepresented groups to engage with STEM education. This has already started working somewhat, as the number of underrepresented groups completing STEM subject degrees has increased.
4. Highlighting the Benefit of Learning Transferable STEM Skills
There are a lot of transferable skills to be learned from STEM subjects, many of which will help young people in the future. By highlighting the benefit of these skills, young people are likely to see STEM as something worth investing their time in. It’s important for young people to see that a STEM education can help them with a range of future careers, not just those in engineering.
Problem solving, team work, management, communication, thinking for yourself and critical thinking are all skills gained from STEM subjects. These skills aren’t only beneficial for those wanting to eventually get a job in engineering, but those wanting to pursue any career that requires research and development.
Currently, there are a number of steps being taken towards encouraging young people to embark on STEM careers. This is something that can be done from a young age, by encouraging them to play with science, technology, engineering, and mathematics toys. It’s also something that can be pushed in primary and secondary schools, especially amongst underrepresented groups such as women.