06 August 2013
Today’s publication of exam results in Scotland shows a decline in the pass rate for maths, a subject which is vital to progress into engineering and technology careers.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) is warning that economic prosperity could be at risk if more students do not study and successfully complete key enabling subjects such as maths and science.
Dr Tony Whitehead, IET Director of Policy, said: “Whilst today’s exam results show an increase not only in the number of students taking and passing Highers, it is concerning that the pass rate for maths has fallen.
“Studying maths and science is crucial for students wishing to pursue careers in engineering and technology.
“The IET’s 2013 skills survey shows that many of the country’s engineering employers are suffering from skills gaps, shortages and an ageing workforce, and this will only get worse in the future when huge numbers of engineers and technicians are forecast to be needed for new infrastructure and energy projects.
“It is important that young people study maths and science and then continue their studies into higher education; the country needs more people studying science and engineering subjects at university and taking up jobs in this sector.”
Furthermore, there is still a distinct lack of women in the engineering sector and studying maths and science is an enabling factor to improve this shortage. Currently, only 7 per cent of the engineering workforce is female so the IET will continue to tackle pre-existing stereotypes and encourage more females into the sector. Employers also need to provide work flexibility so that work and family needs can be met.
The IET recommends that the new exams set to be implemented next year should ensure that exams in science and maths are of the upmost quality and higher level uptake is actively promoted. The importance of STEM subjects should be highlighted alongside the provision of high quality careers advice.