How can we inspire the next generation of engineers?


23 January 2017
The UK is experiencing a substantial shortage of engineers, with 257,000 new vacancies expected in six years. Children are the future, yet 72% of people believe that not enough is being done to encourage kids to study STEM subjects. To help spark a change, Neutronic Technologies have produced a unique report examining what exactly is holding the industry back.
Research conducted by industrial components and engineering services Neutronic Technologies has revealed that more than one in seven people believe that not enough is currently being done to encourage children to study STEM subjects. With the UK facing such a drastic shortage of talent, and the urgent problems facing the modern world, the need for industry-wide change has never been more apparent.

To help inspire the change that is needed, Neutronic Technologies has produced its own report to thoroughly examine the subject and highlight what needs to be done. 

Neil Gallant, Managing Director of Neutronic Technologies, hopes the report will do more to inspire changes to be made: “The shortage of graduates seeking out careers in engineering is a huge concern for everyone in the industry. The world’s demand for talented engineers is growing. If we are to tackle the problems we face, such as global warming and using less energy, we need to increase the supply to meet the demand. But to do that we need to show children that exciting careers can be found here.”

Advice from engineers, for future engineers…
Getting more children to take up STEM subjects isn’t something that can happen overnight. What we need is a gradual change inside the industry and out, steered by those who are already working in it and those who have the biggest influence on children’s lives.

Entitled ‘Inspiring a Generation: How can we get more kids into engineering?’, the report takes an in-depth look at the condition of the engineering industry. It explores what is holding us back, and calls on expert opinion to discover exactly what we can do to overcome these issues.

Do you know what an engineer does?
When you hear the word ‘engineer’, what do you think of? It will likely be someone who fixes a broken boiler or installs your broadband. But the truth is that engineering touches our lives on a daily basis, and there are dozens of disciplines out there. Only 19% of 12 to 16 year olds actually know what engineers do; a figure we need to change drastically. 

Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, Professor of Enterprise and Engineering Education at the University of Sheffield, believes that this misconception is a huge influencing factor: “In the UK, the general public don’t seem to be aware that engineers are the people who have invented everything they use from their mobile phones to their food processors, their medicines and their cosmetics. Everything you interact with or use from the moment you wake up until you go back to sleep has had many engineers involved in making it so.”

Educating the educators
Teachers have a huge influence on children. After all, they do spend up to eight hours a day with them. So if teachers don’t have a complete grasp on engineering and the potential career opportunities, how are they supposed to encourage their students to choose that path?

Jess Penny, General Manager of Sales at Penny Hydraulics, believes that a way to solve this is through more open days and field trips, but for teachers: “STEM-promoting initiatives between schools and businesses which focus on the current perception of STEM subjects and careers, with students and their teachers, are vital. Teacher placement schemes in business, business-led workshops or open days for teachers can also help teaching staff better understand the STEM careers landscape and advice students appropriately. By supporting teachers, businesses can help them have the confidence to teach STEM-related topics in creative and inspiring ways, and to promote STEM as a career path to their students.”
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