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Why are careers in engineering still so poorly understood?

Most of us have heard of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Robert Stephenson and Elon Musk. We know a little about what they have built, but why is the engineering profession still so poorly understood?

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EngineeringUK recently carried out research about engineering as a profession. The results were frightening: out of 2,516 people aged 11 to 19, 76% did not know what engineers do. On top of that, 72% of parents said that they did not know much about engineering as a profession, and 63% of 11-to-16 year olds say that they would speak to their parents about careers advice. With BIM technology playing a major part in building projects and sustainability in the construction industry, something clearly needs to be done to address the situation.

Future technology

BIM technology featured in the 2011 Government Construction Strategy, with a view to reducing construction costs by 20% by avoiding the duplication of information by 2016. If this is to continue, it is vital that more people are recruited into engineering. Unfortunately, each year in the UK we have an estimated shortfall of up to 59,000 engineers.

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Lack of Diversity

That’s bad enough, there is also a lack of diversity in the profession; women make up only 12% of the profession while less than 9% are from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. The World Economic Forum says that many engineering roles will be crucial in protecting our future, and with BIM technology featuring so highly, greater diversity in the profession is even more important.

According to the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAE), there is an annual demand for at least 124,000 engineers and technicians annually. To help address this, the RAE has scheduled 6 November 2019 as “This is Engineering Day”, a day to raise awareness of what it means to be an engineer and to celebrate how they are making our world what it is.

This Is Engineering aims to give young people a better understanding of engineering in general, to explain how it features in a wide range of industries from fashion to sport and beyond, and to show how it is relevant to all of us, regardless of our background or gender. Let’s hope it ignites some passion in them in the same way it did those great engineers in our history.

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