Primary pupils love STEM, yet shortages at A-Level continue


Despite a high rate of enjoyment at a young age, British children aren’t taking STEM subjects further, according to a new study.

The research, conducted by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has found that only five per cent of four to 12-year-old children would choose to drop science or design and technology (D&T) from their studies.

In fact, two thirds (67 per cent) of kids in this age group don’t find STEM subjects boring, contrary to popular opinion, and with the wealth of technical gadgets available today, the younger generation is becoming increasingly plugged in when it comes to understanding how these items work. Seven in ten (70 per cent) boys and girls say they just couldn’t live without their electronic devices, including smartphones, e-readers, and tablets – an attachment which highlights their interest in STEM.

Yet, despite this, there aren't enough young people – particularly girls – choosing to study science, technology, engineering and maths at A-Level or at university, which is compounding the shortage of young people going into engineering and technology careers. Government plans to drop D&T from the curriculum are expected to exacerbate the situation, as fewer students will have the opportunity to engage in the creative and problem-solving side of engineering at school.

Outdated stereotypes also play a significant role in turning young people off engineering careers.

Naomi Climer, IET President, said: “We know that parents are role models and influencers over their children’s futures, so it’s crucial that they support their children – particularly girls – as much as possible if they are showing an interest in science, engineering, technology and maths.

"Some parents have told us they do not feel equipped with enough knowledge and this plays a part in why kids are not encouraged at home about science and engineering jobs. We have to change that."

Image: Nicholas James