The drive to encourage children to study engineering-related subjects has intensified after research showed that more than 70% lose interest in maths and science at secondary school.
Management consultant AT Kearney has published a report showing that more than half of girls and seven in 10 boys want to work in science, technology and maths (STEM)-related careers at the start of secondary school – yet fewer than one in five girls and one in three boys take two STEM A-levels.
The data was drawn from surveys of more than 60,000 people carried out by King’s College London and University College London .
A lack of informed careers advice, and a perception that good grades were valued ahead of subject choice, was said by the Tough Choices report to discourage young people from choosing A-level STEM subjects.
Industry leaders called for a concerted effort to boost the attractiveness of science, technology, engineering and maths courses.
Edwina Dunn, chair of the industry-led Your Life Campaign, said: “Many students are unintentionally left without any knowledge of the skills and careers which follow from learning maths and physics.
“We must act now to reverse a multi-generational decline in stem uptake in schools and empower young people to gain the skills to do incredible things and make a real difference to their own future and the future of the nation.”
CBI president Paul Dreschler said: “Education is a shared passion for government, business, schools and parents – who all want the best for young people – so we hope that the insights in this report will be helpful. As the business community we have a role to play – offering support to teachers and head teachers, inspiring young people and giving up-to-date insights into the world of work.”
Institution of Engineering & Technology policy director Alison Carr said: “We need to have more young people studying all the engineering gateway subjects to ensure that they are not shutting the door on an exciting, creative career in engineering.
“There is huge demand for engineers so it is important that young people have the opportunity to continue their studies. The country needs more people studying science and engineering subjects and taking up apprenticeships.”
A Treasury document last year set out a need to recruit and train 100,000 extra infrastructure workers by 2020.