Knowledge gap holding back future UK engineering talent

Young people are rejecting engineering as a career choice because they don’t know enough about the profession, new research to mark the start of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) revealed.

The research shows that only half of 11-14 year olds would consider a career in engineering and less than one in ten (7 per cent) plan to be engineers once they finish their education. While 44 per cent of those that wouldn’t consider a career in engineering blame not knowing anything about the industry. Also to blame are negative perceptions of engineering as boring and uncreative (17 per cent), oily, smelly and dirty (15 per cent) and factory-based (14 per cent). 

Girls in particular are not attracted to engineering as a career option. 65 per cent wouldn’t consider a career in engineering, a quarter (24 per cent) of which don’t think that engineering is a suitable or attractive career for women. Parents of daughters hold similar views. Three quarters (76 per cent) of parents with girls haven’t encouraged their daughters to consider engineering as a career option.

Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) aims to challenge these outdated perceptions of engineering by showcasing the range of exciting careers available as an engineer. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, along with over 70 other partners, will engage young people, their parents and teachers by demonstrating the engineering skills in everything from the shoes young people wear and the music they listen to.

Commenting on the findings of the Tomorrow’s Engineers Week research, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, Vince Cable, said: “We want young people to have a strong interest in engineering-related subjects and activities, but this interest alone is not enough to inspire them to consider a career in engineering.

“There is a lack of knowledge about the breadth, depth, range and quality of career opportunities in engineering and government, employers, professional bodies and educators must join forces to inspire the next generation of talent.

“We must also improve our efforts to show girls and their parents that engineering is a great career choice for women. I am confident that the measures we are announcing today and over the months to come will have a significant impact on skills shortages and will future-proof this vital industry which is so important for the UK economy.”

The Government has also announced a raft of measures to address future skills shortages including
• £30 million fund for employers to bid for to address skills shortages in sectors with specific need;
• £250,000 of seed funding to enable Tomorrow’s Engineers to accelerate the nationwide rollout of its employer engagement programme aimed at encouraging children in school to consider engineering careers;
• £40,000 to support the Daphne Jackson Trust to develop a new fellowship to support people returning to professional engineering jobs after a career break;

For more information about Tomorrow’s Engineers Week, visit

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For further information please contact:
Simon Francis, 07738487259,
Julie Parmenter, 07775 715936,

Notes to editors
1. The research also showed that many young people – both boys and girls - are using engineering-related skills in everyday life. Three quarters (72 per cent) of 11-14 year olds love using the latest technology, 58 per cent like designing and creating things and 51 per cent like learning how things work. Meanwhile 50 per cent enjoy science subjects at school and 38 per cent like maths. The key to persuading young people to change their minds, it seems, could be to demonstrate the breadth and depth of exciting engineering careers. 28 per cent of 11-14 year olds would consider an engineering career if they knew it involved working in exciting industries like fashion, music and film. 26 per cent would be inspired by young engineers visiting their school and 25 per cent would like to see what engineers actually do in their workplace.

2. Research was undertaken by Vision Critical on behalf of Tomorrow’s Engineers Week. The poll of 1000 children aged 11-14 years old and 1000 parents of children aged 11-14 years old based in England and Wales was conducted between 18th and 24th October 2013.

3. Tomorrow’s Engineers Week (#TEWeek13) takes place from 4-8th November 2013 and aims to change perceptions of engineering among young people, their parents and teachers. To find out how to get involved, visit
4. Funding Partners for Tomorrow’s Engineers Week are: EngineeringUK, The Royal Academy of Engineering, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Institution of Chemical Engineers, the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Civil Engineers
5. Wider partners include: All Party Parliamentary Group on Apprenticeships, Arup, Atkins, BAE Systems, British Science Association, Career Academies UK, The Edge Foundation, EEF the Manufacturers Organisation, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Facebook, GE Aviation, Girlguiding, GlaxoSmithKline, J8 Precision, Jaguar Land Rover, Little Miss Geek, Motorsports Industry Association, National Apprenticeship Service, National Careers Service, Next Generation Skills, Siemens, Sciencegrrl, Sheffield Forgemasters International Ltd, Skills Funding Agency, the Skills Show, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, The Science Museum, STEMNET, Teach First, Teeside Local Government, UK Association for Interactive Entertainment, UKCES, the V&A Museum, the Women’s Engineering Society, Women in Science and Engineering, World Skills UK.

About the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

1 The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is the department for economic growth. The department invests in skills and education to promote trade, boost innovation and help people to start and grow a business. BIS also protects consumers and reduces the impact of regulation.
2 The government's economic policy objective is to achieve 'strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries.' It set 4 ambitions in the "Plan for Growth", published at Budget 2011:

• to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
• to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
• to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
• to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.

3 Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

4 BIS has recently announced a £400 million STEM teaching capital fund to tackle diversity challenges facing the engineering industry.