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A-Levels: New stats reveal current curriculum limits the ‘work-readiness’ of future engineers

On A-Level results day, the Institution of Engineering and Technology is calling for a more balanced combination of education and work experience to give students the right skills and insight into modern engineering careers.

There are also growing concerns that the current curriculum limits the ‘work-readiness’ of future engineers. Latest IET research* which surveyed engineering and technology employers across the UK found that 73 per cent have difficulty with job candidates who have academic knowledge but lack workplace skills.

As well as a higher emphasis on workplace skills, there needs to be more careers guidance for A-Level students, in order to enhance the employability skills of school-leavers and help close the widening engineering skills gap. This also includes encouraging and recognising the importance of vocational routes into work, such as apprenticeships and T-Levels.

Statistics published today show entries to STEM subjects have increased for both boys and girls – overall a 26.2 per cent rise since 2010; more girls now do science subjects – biology, chemistry and physics combined - than boys and overall science entries are up by 7.4 per cent, despite the fall in the population; and Maths remains the most popular subject at A level.

Stephanie Baxter, IET Skills and Education Policy Lead, said: “It’s fantastic to see an increase in young people choosing science-related subjects. However, it is crucial that young people are supported in their studies and without the right balance of education, work experience and careers guidance they might not be aware of the exciting range of engineering roles available to them, which in turn could be compounding the industry’s skills problem and limit their work-readiness.

“The country needs more people studying science and engineering subjects at university and taking up apprenticeships. It’s never too early to start developing the next generation of ‘homegrown’ engineering and technology talent that have the right practical skills for careers in modern engineering and we believe that a combination of education and work experience will help to achieve this.”

The IET champions the need for employers and the education sector to collaborate to offer a diverse range of quality work experience to engineering students. For more information about the range of support and options available to students through the IET, visit the Students section of the IET website.

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Notes to editors

*Stats from 2019 IET research amongst 700 engineering and technology companies.

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