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Uptake in Maths and Physics is not the holy grail for engineering sector

21 August 2017

The uptake of students studying Maths and Physics subjects has been hailed ‘a step in the right direction’ and is a welcome progress, but is it enough?

Young engineers (Credit: IET)

Studying engineering is creative and should not be limited to only those who have taken these subjects, states the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET).

Figures released by the Joint Council for Qualifications for A-Level results UK wide show a slight increase in entries to Maths (11.5 percent of total number sat this year compared to 11 percent in 2016) and Physics (4.4 percent of total number sat this year compared to 4.2 percent in 2016). Numbers studying Design and Technology however remain stable (1.5 percent of total number sat this year and in 2016).

The results come as universities across the country open their Clearing process for 2017 with lots of courses accredited by the IET still available in a diverse range of engineering subjects.

Alison Carr, IET Director of Policy, said: “The uptake in students studying the crucial engineering gateway subjects of Maths and Physics, and potentially opening the door to an exciting and creative career as engineers, is welcome news.

“This is a small step in the right direction and there remains huge demand for engineers. We ultimately need to look at the focus on Maths and Physics as the role of an engineer is about solving creative challenges so we must also harness students’ creativity. It is vital that students are supported in their studies so that they are aware of the exciting range of engineering roles available to them. The country needs more people studying engineering subjects at university and taking up apprenticeships.

“We are at risk of stifling economic growth if we do not encourage more students to study engineering, which is crucial to ensuring a healthy and balanced economy.”

A 2017 Engineering UK Survey found that 186,000 people with engineering skills will be needed annually through to 2024. The IET’s most recent Skills & Demand in Industry Report 2016 also showed that 53 percent of companies surveyed that have recently tried to recruit, say that there is a lack of available graduate candidates in the industry.

Research from the IET shows that there is a growing need to change perceptions of what modern engineering is and what it can offer young people, particularly girls, in terms of a career. The key to doing this is by changing the perceptions of parents who are highly influential in their child’s decision making processes and showing them that engineering doesn’t have to be a messy, mechanical or physically demanding career choice.

The IET offers a range of scholarships for students to continue their engineering study at university. The deadline for some is 24 August 2017. For more information, visit www.theiet.org/scholarships or www.theiet.org/diamond.


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