Failure to integrate engineering in curriculum threatens UK’s economy and productivity
According to a new report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, school students have little exposure to or understanding of engineering which is leading most to choose subjects which effectively rule out this career path early on in their schooling.
The report says that although students have a vague sense of engineering’s value, its low visibility in schools means they do not feel informed or confident enough to consider it as a future career. Furthermore, teachers and career professionals lack the time, knowledge and resources to communicate the breadth of career opportunities to students.
In the report, the Institution highlights the need for Government to rethink how it presents and promotes engineering to future generations, especially girls who feel less informed, inspired or inclined towards engineering as a potential career. This failure has made UK engineering one of the least diverse professions in the developed world, with only 9% of all engineers being women.
The report has nine key recommendations on how the UK can begin to address the engineering shortage:
- Government should establish a working group of leading educationalists and other stakeholders, to examine innovative ways engineering can be integrated into the curriculum (by 2018).
- Government to appoint a National Schools Engineering Champion to provide an effective and uninterrupted communication channel between schools, Government and industry (by 2018).
- National Education Departments to advocate curricula that reflect the ‘made world’ to modern society, including reference to engineering in maths and D&T (by 2019).
- National Education Departments to promote teaching that promotes problem-based learning (by 2019).
- Schools to appoint an Engineering & Industry Leader within the senior leadership team, to drive change and communicate the vision (by 2019).
- Schools to appoint an Industry School Governor to support the Engineering & Industry Leader and embed employer relationships within the school.
- Schools to implement a robust careers strategy, using benchmarks set out in the Gatsby Foundation Good Career Guidance.
- The Engineering Community to agree a unified message about engineering, stressing creative problem-solving and the social benefits of the profession.
- The Engineering Community to provide students with the opportunity to take part in activities that explore the political, societal and ethical aspects of technology.
“With engineering underpinning about 5.7 million jobs and contributing over £480bn to our economy, we believe the ‘wait and see’ position held by successive Governments for over 40 years cannot continue,” said Peter Finegold, head of education & skills at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and lead author of the report. “With Brexit looming and the real threat that we will not be able to attract engineers from the EU to work in the UK, we must encourage a greater number and diversity of students to consider engineering as a viable and valuable career choice.”
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