Endorsed by over 150 engineering leaders and prominent personalities such as Tim Peake, Carol Vorderman, and will.i.am, the Engineering Kids’ Futures (EKF) report sets out several proposals to boost engineering in the UK and plug the enormous skills gap in the sector. An average of 10 STEM roles are currently unfilled in the average UK business, leading to an estimated overall shortfall of 173,000 workers. According to the organisation STEM Learning, this is costing the UK economy £1.5bn per year.
“As we know, subjects like science and maths are eagerly taught in schools, but connecting them to engineering – the link between these subjects, their purpose and application to the world in which we live – is not currently being made clear,” said David Lakin, IET head of Education, Safeguarding & Education Policy.
“We need to ensure there are clearer learning outcomes for these subjects. Put simply, we need to embed engineering into the mainstream curriculum. One way we can do this is by reviewing the current D&T curriculum, which is a key engineering and technology gateway subject, and give it more importance in the EBacc suite of subjects. Teacher training is also a key factor, and providing an engineering package aligned with the Initial Teacher Training Core Content Framework is vital to enhance a teacher’s understanding and confidence around talking about engineering in the classroom.”
Key recommendations in the EKF report include:
- The National Curriculum – The English schools National Curriculum be reviewed to embed the teaching of engineering, at both primary and secondary levels of education.
- The Design & Technology Curriculum – The current D&T curriculum at secondary level be reviewed, to refocus it as an ‘engineering and design’ subject, with a possible rebranding of the subject accordingly.
- The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) – School accountability measures (Progress 7 and Attainment 8) be reviewed to move D&T into the EBacc suite of subjects.
- Engineering training for teachers – UK Government endorse, actively promote, signpost and support an engineering package of training aligned with the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework.
- Bursaries and scholarships – UK Government funded ITT bursaries and scholarships in engineering be reviewed to increase their value and availability.
“There are many options, and the engineering community is ready to help develop and implement these to support government in implementing these recommendations,” Lakin continued.
“Our aim to significantly increase the number of quality engineers and technicians entering the workforce can only be achieved by letting young people see the opportunities that a career in the engineering sector presents.”
The report found that more than two-thirds (70 per cent) of parents believe the education system is failing to link school subjects with real-world applications. A similar number (69 per cent) said it os essential that primary school children are exposed to engineering and technology at a young age to spark interest in these fields