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This article appears on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers website

Research from Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering shows UK teenagers are keen on tech but not so keen on difficult engineering degrees

Research from the QE Prize for Engineering has highlighted the gap between teenager’s perceptions of technology, and awareness of the role engineers play in its development.

According to the survey by the QE Prize for Engineering, 85% of 16-17 year olds are interested in technology such as smartphones and computers, yet only 21% are interested in a career as an engineer.

The figures for 16-17 year olds were released as the government launched this year’s National Apprenticeship Week with a drive to promote the value of apprentices to companies.

The QE Prize survey results, which compares perceptions of engineering in the UK against those in other countries, are from the Create the Future report. Around a thousand people were questioned from ten countries for the report.

Although UK teenagers’ interest outstrips that of young people in Germany, Japan and South Korea, specific interest in engineering falls below all the other countries surveyed.

Sir Christopher Snowden, chairman of the QE Prize judging panel and vice-chancellor of the University of Southampton said: “We need to do more to educate people on the role engineering plays in technology and help young people understand that technology is a product of engineering.

“The challenge facing the engineering community is to shift the love of tech to a love of engineering. There is no silver bullet solution to this issue, but if we work together as parents, teachers, companies, institutions and even governments, then we will see a change in attitudes and debunk the myths surrounding our profession.”

According to the QE Prize, the report shows the complex attitudes young people have towards engineering and their chances of breaking into the profession. Half of the UK teenagers questioned were optimistic that engineering can address issues such as depleting energy resources in in the next 20 years.

However, around 30% of potential engineers were put off the career as they felt an engineering degree was too hard, too expensive and that they lacked adequate funding for training.