UK STEM Education Landscape report reflects BINDT strategy


The May 2016 report ‘UK STEM Education Landscape’, prepared for the Lloyd’s Register Foundation by the Royal Academy of Engineering’s (RAEng) Education and Skills Committee, supports the British Institute of Non-Destructive Testing’s strategy to ensure that there is a diverse pipeline of young people coming into the non-destructive testing (NDT), condition monitoring (CM) and structural health monitoring (SHM) industries.

The UK is facing a well-documented engineering skills crisis. An ageing workforce means that vast numbers of skilled technicians and professional engineers will need replacing within the next ten years. However, the supply of individuals coming into engineering roles is not keeping pace with demand.

To increase the number of young people considering joining the engineering sector, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) communities have been busy for many years encouraging young people to pursue these subjects at school, college and university. In addition, various organisations have been working to improve the quality of teaching across STEM subjects, while other groups have been involved in influencing government policy to raise initiatives in STEM.

There are a number of issues preventing increasing numbers of young people from taking up subjects that lead to engineering careers, such as:
  • The poor perceptions and attitudes of young people and their guardians towards engineering
  • A shortage of specialist teachers and teaching
  • Under-representation of specific groups to reflect diversity and equality
  • Lack of careers advice and employer engagement
  • Limited availability of educational programmes, qualifications and assessments
  • A shortfall of pathways to progression
  • An absence of facilities and capacity in further education (FE) and higher education (HE).

If properly addressed, this is likely to result in a meaningful increase in the number of young people pursuing engineering as a career.

Apprenticeships are an alternative pathway into engineering and can be applied for from the age of 16. There has been a clear increase in the number of apprenticeships in recent years and, over the last three years, approximately 35,000 students have started advanced apprenticeships across engineering, construction and IT sector skills areas.

After considerable hard work and dedication from the BINDT Education and Professional Development Committee – the driving-force behind the new NDT apprenticeships – and the support of the 58 companies that have committed to taking on up to 200 apprentices per year, an NDT Engineering Technician apprenticeship and an NDT Operator apprenticeship are now ready for delivery. The introduction of further NDT/CM apprenticeships is included in the long-term vision of BINDT’s Education and Professional Development Committee.

The UK’s economy and infrastructure relies heavily on the application of STEM, but a significant amount of work is still required to steer young people towards careers in these industries. This will be facilitated by ensuring guidance is given on the right choices with appropriate educational support, enabling higher levels of achievement at each stage to support progression to further education and employment.

While the majority of all current programmes are aimed at attempting to improve young people’s view of engineering, little is being done at a national level to change the wider public perception of engineering. To redress this, RAEng has started work on a major national campaign to alter the public understanding of engineering.

The ‘UK STEM Education Landscape’ report has highlighted the areas that need to be addressed and, in conclusion, BINDT will:
  • Continue to encourage young people into careers in engineering
  • Focus on developing vocational pathways, for example certification, apprenticeships and continuing professional development (CPD) undertaken at work
  • Aim for outreach activities to concentrate on primary school children and their parents
  • Raise awareness amongst the general public with a diverse range of promotional activities with a view to achieving the common industry goal of developing a new generation of skilled engineers for the UK.

The ‘UK STEM Education Landscape’ report is available to download from: