A scheme at Sheffield Hallam University is aiming to avert a national skills shortage by getting pupils and students more involved in their science, technology and mathematics lessons.

The ‘Engineering a Better World’ (EBW) project is helping pupils from schools across Yorkshire and Humberside into careers in science and engineering by encouraging them to study science and mathematics.

The University’s Centre for Science Education is managing the three-year pilot project in the Yorkshire and Humberside region, with four regional SETPOINTs acting as co-ordinating hubs at the local level. The project is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and Yorkshire Forward.

According to Dr Stuart Bevins of SETPOINT South Yorkshire in the Centre for Science Education: “The UK has a long tradition of producing high quality scientists, engineers and mathematicians who have contributed greatly to the economic stability of the nation. However, over recent years the recruitment of people with the necessary skills and abilities in these areas has reduced significantly.”

David Mowthorpe, project manager of EBW said: “Even though the UK has a large and increasing number of students in higher education there is a decrease in those studying specifically for qualifications in mathematics, physical sciences and engineering disciplines. This has resulted in a national skills shortage.

“The EBW project engages young people by giving them a positive experience of engineering in school and beyond. A major aim is to increase young people’s understanding and perception of engineering and engineering careers, and the important role that mathematics and the physical sciences have to play.”

The scheme involves both curricular and extra-curricular activities in design & technology, science and mathematics, with school departments and careers specialists working collaboratively.