Reinvigorate STEM subjects in schools or we risk a crisis in the economically important engineering sector, EAL has said.

Ann Watson, Managing Director of EAL, the specialist awarding organisation for industry qualifications, has called for more to be done to encourage young people into engineering Apprenticeships following the publication of the Social Market Foundation’s (SMF) In The Balance: The STEM human capital crunch report.

The report, which is supported by EngineeringUK, said as many as one in five 21-year-olds must enter the engineering profession each year until 2020 to overcome skills shortages. SMF says the industry is already 40,000 short of the number of STEM students it needs each year, a problem that will get worse as the engineering workforce ages and retires.

Ann said: “The engineering sector, in particular, is heading for catastrophe unless we encourage more young people to take up STEM subjects at GCSE and A Level and follow through to engineering Apprenticeships at Level 3 and above.

“Engineering and manufacturing are vitally important to our economy – employing over five million people, in more than 500,000 enterprises and generating a turnover in excess of £1trillion a year. We need over two million more engineers by the time today’s primary school pupils reach working age.

“One important aspect to encouraging greater uptake and enthusiasm surrounding STEM subjects is role models, school visits and showing young people where their interest in science, technology, engineering and maths can lead them.

“A project EAL is proud to be funding and supporting, alongside IMI Awards, is the Industry Apprentice Council (IAC). The IAC is made up of talented, highly motivated apprentices in the engineering and manufacturing sector – superb role models for school leavers who want to design and build cars, aeroplanes, defence technology and even chocolate bars for a living! There is such a diversity of careers associated with engineering and manufacturing and the IAC is ideally placed to inspire, educate and encourage more young people to follow in their footsteps.”

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