More than 50% of young people now considering a career in STEM

Posted on 10 Aug 2020 by Jonny Williamson

Young people now regard becoming a doctor, inventor and engineer as ‘cooler’ than being a TV presenter after witnessing the outstanding feats NHS workers and engineers have performed in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.

Those aged 10-18 years old have taken inspiration from engineers and healthcare professionals during the Covid-19 pandemic to enhance their perceptions of real and life-changing engineering and science to consider these roles for future careers.

More than half (52%) of those surveyed for the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) are now feeling inspired to consider a career in engineering after seeing how engineers were mobilised so quickly to answer the call to design and build life-saving ventilators, as well as convert buildings into much needed hospitals.

Almost two-thirds (63%) of those aged 10-18 have had their eyes opened to pursuing a career in medicine.

career in STEM Everyday engineering - Schoolchildren Programming Robot Together Stem Educational Class - image courtesy of Depositphotos.

As the UK slowly tries to return to normal, the research also revealed that 82% of the young people surveyed believe science should play a greater role in government decisions, and 13-year-olds in particular (49%) strongly agreeing this is necessary.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) has now evolved to become a ‘cool’ career to consider, with kids putting doctor (34%), inventor (30%) and engineer (23%) as the coolest careers ahead of being a TV presenter, which only scored 19%.

Children who said they were inspired by NHS workers or engineers during the Covid-19 crisis explained their main motivations behind this prospective career choice would be to save lives (59%); improve people’s health (47%); do something that benefits society (42%), and work in a field others respect and value (40%).

However, the challenges of tightening the gender gap in STEM still remains, with just 42% of girls saying Covid-19 has inspired them to consider careers in engineering, compared to 60% of boys.

This a problem that has long been stubborn, with research showing currently just 12% of those working in engineering occupations are women, according to EngineeringUK.

Ying Wan Loh, IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year, commented: “Despite the extremely challenging time the UK has faced over the last few months, it’s really encouraging to know that young people have been inspired by those working in STEM during the pandemic and are now considering careers in these fields.

“The Covid-19 outbreak has showcased our fantastic medical professionals, scientists and engineers who have been working so hard to find solutions. It’s put them front and centre during the crisis and raised awareness of how important STEM is to our daily lives.

“I know first-hand that working in STEM offers fantastic experiences, with opportunities to make a real difference.”

*All images courtesy of Depositphotos