Academy says STEM initiatives need to be better coordinated to have long-term impact

A report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering has found that more than 600 UK organisations run initiatives that seek to engage schools with science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM). The report highlights that, despite more than 10 years of concerted effort, all this activity has not yet had the desired impact of increasing uptake of STEM subjects among young people, and calls for future initiatives to be far more coordinated, with better evaluation of their long-term impact.

Dr Rhys Morgan, director of engineering and education at the Academy and author of the report, said: “This study highlights that there is no single silver bullet to solving the UK’s engineering skills challenge.

“To address the issue we need to take a systems approach and tackle the problem of public understanding of engineering in the 21st century, alongside the need to work with government to ensure the education system is aligned with the needs of the economy,” he added.

Some of the issues raised in the report include poor perceptions and attitudes towards engineering careers among young people and their influencers and the need for improved careers guidance and employer engagement in schools among others.

The report underlines the need to coordinate the immense number of organisations wanting to engage with schools so that they create a coherent, high-quality programme that provides young people with clear signposts for their further study.

“The Academy’s report highlights just how complex the STEM education landscape is and how difficult it is for many organisations to engage with an issue that is so important to our future prosperity,” said Professor Richard Clegg, chief executive of the Lloyd’s Register Foundation who commissioned the report. “I hope that, in having undertaken this study, we in the community now make a concerted effort to work together and coordinate our activities to maximise the impact of our engagement with young people in schools and colleges.”