Does engineering need more sex appeal?

A recent report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering suggests that graduates with a first degree in science, technology, engineering or maths (STEM) subjects earn, on average, 4.47% more than those with first degrees in other subjects.

The report also found that those working in STEM occupations earn an average of 18.79% more than those working in other areas.

While the statistics are encouraging, they make it even harder to understand why the industry faces such a dire skills shortage.

Indeed, the average age of an engineer is increasing and fewer people are attracted to a career in industry.

Young people, in general, believe that engineering in all its forms is dull and would rather do something else as a career. There's nothing particularly new about that, but it's a problem that is becoming more critical.

While there is general agreement that the UK's economy needs to have a greater focus on engineering, we are struggling to produce the number of engineers needed.

This is primarily due to the fact that school children need to be exposed to engineering at an early age, but the school curriculum is such that there is little room for anything other than core subjects.

While industry certainly has a role to play, so too does the government.

The question is: how do you persuade an entire generation to study for a career in the industry when subjects such as Media Studies have more perceived sex appeal?

Laura Hopperton

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Do you have any comments about this article?
It is good to here that we value our engineers with a little more pay. Does the industry need sex appeal, I think not, do we need to create interesting projects that stimulate young people, yes we do. That is what Bloodhound is all about, and its open source ethos should be one that is shared and expanded on. In this way we will make progress faster and stimulate young people as we used to.

Comment Tony Parraman, 23/11/2011
We had this exact conversation two days ago when Eureka visited jbj Techniques Ltd.
Engineering and manufacturing need new blood coming through and the associated trade press like Eureka and The Engineer need readers in the future. This is why we all need to get together behind the likes of The Bloodhound project and The Big Bang Fair and get young, enquiring minds to get excited about engineering, science and mathematics that help shape our world. Engineers engineer things that are used to engineer other things that engineer the World. Engineers are like bees, without them life would cease to exist. Read about bees if you don't catch my drift but believe me its true!

Comment James Harris, jbj Techniques Ltd, 23/11/2011

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