The 2019 CHILDWISE study completed by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has shown a decrease in enthusiasm for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects amongst children and has highlighted the influence of teachers, especially at the early primary school stage, in selecting a career path.
Teachers and others from the education sector indicated that increased time pressures and reduced resources were hindering efforts to increase STEM classes, and as a result CHILDWISE has reported a 10% decrease in children’s interest in STEM subjects. This is particularly clear when students are broken down by gender, with traditional stereotypes still having an effect on the numbers of girls showing an interest in engineering.
The study also indicates a significant knowledge gap for parents, with one in five saying they would feel unable to provide advice if their child were to ask about a career in the field. As a result, the IET has emphasised that increased exposure to STEM subjects early in education is becoming increasingly important as part of long-term efforts to address the skills gap in engineering in the UK.
The CHILDWISE research indicates a need to show the relationship between more popular subjects such as art, design and sport, and STEM subjects, to help students see the possibilities of a career in engineering. This can be done by providing teachers with the resources and tools required to support students who show an interest.
The full study and report can be found on the IET website.