Are Perceptions in Engineering Changing?
Engineering surrounds us, in everything we do. Every brand we engage with on a daily basis has engineering behind it. Engineering is a hugely varied and diverse industry, and it isn’t solely about mechanical engineering, even though traditionally this is where a lot of public perceptions are fixed.
Attitudes are changing
There are some encouraging statistics in UK manufacturing currently which show the more traditional attitudes towards engineering are starting to change and reflect the diverse and dynamic roles engineers have to play in industry. However, there is still a long way to go to evolve these deep-rooted, societal attitudes into more open-minded views of the potential opportunities the sector has to offer. There needs to be much more education for parents, teachers and young people about the unique and exciting careers that are available within the engineering industry.
Whilst there are a lot of positive initiatives through government and industry led campaigns that are challenging some of the outdated stereotypes and occupational misconceptions, there is still a way to go. Our collective aim needs to be to inform and inspire young people and parents about the diverse variety of opportunities in engineering, to change the perception that engineering is more suited to boys and that engineering isn’t simply about just ‘fixing’ things.
The current school-leavers’ engineering and apprenticeship programmes are often seen as a less desirable alternative to higher education, which is disappointing in this day and age. It really doesn’t need to be an either/or choice anymore as new employer-led apprenticeships mean more opportunities for young people and many of these have the option of going on to get degrees.
The UK is falling short of engineering graduates
The UK is set to need in excess of 250,000 skilled entrants in industry as a whole, with 180,000 of these needed in engineering by 2024 to meet the demand from our sector. This is at a time when the proportion of young workers under 25 years of age, entering industry continues to decrease. The result of this imbalance is that the UK will fall well short of the 20,000 engineering graduates needed each year.
In order to improve the supply of future engineering and technology skills into industry, there should be a better focus on engineering within the school curriculum. There needs to be better links between industry and schools to improve the balance of school pupils taking up STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects, especially girls who still consider these subjects as more suited to boys. These historical perceptions about engineering as a career are often fixed in the minds of children from a very early age and reinforced by parents, who significantly influence their children’s choices.
There is, however, a positive trend emerging which is more encouraging, and perhaps a result of the recent public campaigning, which shows that more engineering and technology first degrees were granted in 2014/15 than the previous year. There has also been a noted increase in the number of 11–16-year-olds considering a career in engineering.
A great way to access a growing and evolving sector
As a young person in 2017, apprenticeships and academia are great ways to access this growing and evolving sector, and for this sector, there’s an untapped pool of brilliant minds waiting to be utilised to their full potential. It is really important for the UK to work together to build on this, with industry, education, government and parents encouraging more young people to consider a STEM career. It is an exciting, diverse and fulfilling career choice that can bring financial, social and personal rewards in abundance. Engineering has never been more exciting!
Alltube Engineering Ltd. has some great long term opportunities for young, future engineers through our established apprenticeship scheme. We offer positive employment prospects with support and guidance from an established and experienced team.