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Poll: How can young people be encouraged to pursue a career in engineering?



Ask almost anyone who works in an engineering-related field and they’ll doubtlessly be aware of the looming ‘skills gap’ presented by the imminent retirement of a very large cohort of engineers, and a lack of younger engineers to take their place. It’s a problem which has garnered much media attention, but to-date solutions have been fleeting. So, what can be done to encourage young people to pursue a career in engineering?

Engineering is at the heart of many countries’ economic success. To take one example, the UK, engineering generates 23% of UK turnover, employs 5.6 million people and produces the majority of the nation’s exports. Yet engineering skills are in very short supply. According to industry body EngineeringUK almost half of engineering employers have difficulties source and recruiting the talent they need for their businesses. And the problem gets worse when you look ahead to future talent requirements- the shortfall of engineering graduates and technicians is estimated at as much as 59,000 annually.

And that’s just the UK!
How can young people be encouraged to pursue a career in engineering?
A similar picture is presented elsewhere in the world. In the US, where the domestic manufacturing industry is once again in rude health, the skills gap may leave an estimated 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028 as the gap between the jobs that need to be filled and the skilled talent pool capable of filling them widens significantly.

So, what can be done?

  • Promote and highlight the positive social impact of engineering- with 90% of young people saying they want a career that tackles social issues, and 67% saying they would consider engineering if it helped society, one of the quickest wins for the sector would be to engage in high-profile public relations campaigns which provide real-life examples of the positive social impact that a career in engineering can achieve. Such campaigns are already being run by trade-bodies such as EngineeringUK, but perhaps there could be more company and individual-led efforts?

  • Work with schools to align education to engineering careers- In a January 2018 survey, 67% of graduates said that they now work in a role completely unrelated to their degree. This suggests that more could be done whilst young people are in-school to inform them about engineering careers and the qualifications necessary to achieve them. Without the right support at the early stages of their education, potential engineers are unaware of their career choices.

  • Provide improved financial incentives- given the vital work that engineers do to keep society running, the pay rates of engineers could be increased to make them commensurate with other skilled professional careers (e.g. doctors, lawyers, architects). With improved earning potential, engineering could then become a much more attractive proposition for young people when choosing which career to pursue.

  • Give the term engineer ‘protected status’- at present (in the UK at least) there’s nothing to stop anyone from calling themselves an engineer. As such you could argue that job titles including the word ‘engineer’ have been devalued- at least in terms of public perception. Providing the term ‘engineering’ with protected statues- meaning you have to be properly qualified and registered to call yourself an engineer, would improve the status of engineering and encourage more young people to choose this career path.
  • Encouraging young people to choose engineering as a career will be key to solving the industry's looming skills gap

    Have your say

    Now it’s over to you. How do you think young people can be encouraged to pursue a career in engineering? Vote now in the poll at the top of this page or leave a comment below. The best results and comments will be published on Monday 5th August and featured in next week’s EngineeringPro newsletter.
    Recent Comments
    Hello sir, I Mohd Vaseem Ahmed and h'av 4 years experience in high rise building on construction site in India. I interested to work with your company.
    Mohd Vaseem Ahmed, 18 September 2019
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    Poll: How can young people be encouraged to pursue a career in engineering? - Time to read 3 min
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