Image of engineering on the up

Posted on 9 Sep 2009 by The Manufacturer

People’s perceptions of career opportunities in engineering have seen a marked improvement since the downturn began, according to a study by the Engineering and Technology Board (ETB).

The organisation’s research found a 19 per cent increase since June 2008 in the number of people who would recommend a career in engineering to their children, family and friends. In addition, eight per cent more people now see engineering as a ‘desirable’ or ‘very desirable’ career path.

And one of the key age brackets being targeted to alleviate the skills-gap, 16-24 year olds, are also showing positive attitudes towards engineering. Forty-five per cent rate a career in the industry as desirable compared with 40 per cent last year. Young children are still struggling to see the appeal though, with 49 per cent of 7-11 year olds rating engineering job prospects as ‘boring’.

But overall Paul Jackson, chief executive of the ETB says the figures should be regarded as step in the right direction in terms of the ongoing fight to change the poor public image of working in manufacturing industries.

“Whilst we must not be complacent, there does seem to have been a significant increase in the number of people who see engineering as desirable or very desirable, and would recommend it as a career to their family and friends,” said Jackson.

Potential reasons touted for the favourable shift include high profile engineering projects like the Olympics, renewed focus on advanced technologies from government and simply by contrast with flailing and media dogged industries like construction and finance.

“The only thing we know for certain is that 62% of teachers, tutors and careers advisors, 35% of the general public and 30% of 11-16s have seen or heard something positive and inspiring about engineering in the past year,” added Jackson. “As a community, we must pull together to increase this promising trend, paying particular attention to targeting the Under 16s who remain our biggest challenge in terms of engagement.”

ETB is an independent organisation which works with government, engineers and academic institutions to promote the values of the industry. More details on this research are available at