Future talent shies away from “oily, smelly and dirty” engineering

Posted on 4 Nov 2013 by Callum Bentley

Young people are rejecting engineering as a career choice because they don’t know enough about the profession, new research has revealed.

The research, conducted to mark the start of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week by Engineering UK, shows that only half of 11-14 year olds would consider a career in engineering and less than one in ten (7 per cent) plan to be engineers once they finish their education.

While 44 per cent of those that wouldn’t consider a career in engineering blame not knowing anything about the industry.  Also to blame are negative perceptions of engineering as boring and uncreative (17 per cent), oily, smelly and dirty (15 per cent) and factory-based (14 per cent).

Girls in particular are not attracted to engineering as a career option.  65 per cent wouldn’t consider a career in engineering, a quarter (24 per cent) of which don’t think that engineering is a suitable or attractive career for women.

Parents of daughters hold similar views.  Three quarters (76 per cent) of parents with girls haven’t encouraged their daughters to consider engineering as a career option.

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week aims to challenge these outdated perceptions of engineering by showcasing the range of careers available as an engineer.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, along with more than 70 other partners, will engage young people, their parents and teachers by demonstrating the engineering skills in everything from the shoes young people wear and the music they listen to.

The Government has also announced a raft of measures to address future skills shortages.

Commenting on the findings of the Tomorrow’s Engineers Week research, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, said: “We want young people to have a strong interest in engineering-related subjects and activities, but this interest alone is not enough to inspire them to consider a career in engineering.

“There is a lack of knowledge about the breadth, depth, range and quality of career opportunities in engineering and government, employers, professional bodies and educators must join forces to inspire the next generation of talent.

“We must also improve our efforts to show girls and their parents that engineering is a great career choice for women.  I am confident that the measures we are announcing today and over the months to come will have a significant impact on skills shortages and will future-proof this vital industry which is so important for the UK economy.”