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Greater joined up thinking called for in STEM efforts

Skills

A report published today by the Royal Academy of Engineering has called for greater collaboration within the engineering industry in order for science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) work to make an impact on addressing the industry’s skills crisis.

Analysis by the Royal Academy of Engineers has found that more than 600 Uk organisations seek to engage with schools on STEM topics but, in 10 years of concerted efforts, this has not had the desired impact.

The UK STEM Education Landscape report calls for future initiatives to be “far more coordinated, with better evaluation of their long-term impact” in order to increase uptake of STEM subjects among young people.

“The academy’s report highlights just how complex the STEM education landscape is and how difficult it is for many organisations to engage with an issue that is so important to our future prosperity,” said Lloyd’s Register Foundation chief executive Richard Clegg, who commissioned the report. “Inspiring the next generation, and widening access to skills and education for STEM careers, sits at the heart of the Lloyds Register Foundation’s charitable purpose. I hope that, in having undertaken this study, we in the community now make a concerted effort to work together and coordinate our activities to maximise the impact of our engagement with young people in schools and colleges.”

Royal Academy of Engineers director of engineering and education Rhys Morgan added: “This study highlights that there is no single silver bullet to solving the UK’s engineering skills challenge. To address the issue we need to take a systems approach and tackle the problem of public understanding of engineering in the 21st century, alongside the need to work with government to ensure the education system is aligned with the needs of the economy. We also need to make sure that, where we have many organisations supporting schools, their activities are having the long-term impact that will ultimately encourage more young people to pursue careers in our sectors.”

Report recommendations

The UK STEM Education Landscape sets out the complex interplay of issues affecting involvement and interest in engineering beyond age 16. These include:

  • Poor perceptions and attitudes towards engineering careers among young people and their influencers;
  • The need for more teachers to engage in professional development that improves their understanding of the application of science and mathematics to real-life contexts;
  • Issues with the qualifications, assessment and accountability system in England, that focuses schools’ attention on a narrow set of academic qualifications;
  • The need for improved careers guidance and employer engagement and better articulation of the many pathways open to young people after school;
  • Issues with facilities and capacity across the whole education landscape.

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