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Engineers are among Britain’s most trusted professions

  • Eighty-six per cent of the British public say they trust engineers to tell the truth: Reasons for trusting engineers include their expertise on the things they talk about and their ability to turn theory and ideas into things that work in reality
  • Engineers are most commonly described as someone who builds bridges, roads or railways, designs things for the future and problem solvers
  • Only 13% describe engineers as wearing hard hats and dirty overalls

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) worked with the 2019 Ipsos MORI Veracity Index, which has been tracking the latest movements in Briton’s trust in key professions since the 1980s, to include engineering for the second year running.

The profession, which makes up 19% of the UK workforce* is trusted to tell the truth by 86% of the population, joint with professors and closely following nurses, doctors, dentists and teachers.

Trust is especially high amongst Britain’s graduates (95%) which is vital because of the need for increasing numbers of qualified engineering professionals across the UK.

Reasons for trusting engineers include being experts on the things that they talk about (49%) and that they turn theory and ideas into things that work in reality (41%).

New for this year, the survey asked Britons what ‘engineer’ means with a list of descriptions. 54% of respondents would describe them as someone who builds bridges, roads or railways with 49% describing them as someone who designs things for the future, 47% a problem solver and 28% an inventor.

While the description that an engineer is someone who fixes your home appliances (30%) appears in the list, the description that an engineer is someone who wears a hard hat and dirty overalls appears much lower (13%).

Mamta Singhal, design engineer and spokesperson for the IET, said: “Engineers play a central role in everyday life and contribute to advancing the world around us and finding solutions to global challenges. It’s fantastic to see that nearly 9 in 10 people trust engineers – this demonstrates the huge level of professionalism and importance of engineers in the UK.

“It’s positive to see the reasons why they are trusted and to know that the stereotypical image of an engineer in a hard hat and dirty overalls isn’t what an engineer means to most people. This will help us to further shift outdated perceptions of engineers and the work that they do, encouraging the next generation into an inspiring and rewarding career.”

At the bottom of the trust league and dropping five percentage points from last year’s survey is politicians generally (14%) – perhaps not surprising in the current political climate – followed by ad execs (17%), government ministers (17%), journalists (26%) and estate agents (30%).

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Notes to Editor:

*State of Engineering 2018, Engineering UK, 2018.

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,020 adults aged 15+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted face-to-face between 18 and 27 October 2019. Data is weighted to match the profile of the population.

KEY REGIONAL STATISTICS- IPSOS MORI

Northern England

  • Engineers tell the truth – 87%
  • Engineers do not tell the truth – 8%
  • Don’t know – 4%

Midlands

  • Engineers tell the truth – 81%
  • Engineers do not tell the truth – 13%
  • Don’t know – 7%

Southern England

  • Engineers tell the truth – 87%
  • Engineers do not tell the truth – 9%
  • Don’t know – 4%

London

  • Engineers tell the truth – 88%
  • Engineers do not tell the truth – 12%
  • Don’t know – 1%

Scotland (N.B. Small base size – 98 participants)

  • Engineers tell the truth – 94%
  • Engineers do not tell the truth – 5%
  • Don’t know – 1%

About the IET

  • We inspire, inform and influence the global engineering community to engineer a better world.
  • We are a diverse home for engineering and technology intelligence throughout the world. This breadth and depth means we are uniquely placed to help the sector progress society.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and technology to change outdated perceptions and tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.
  • Interview opportunities are available with our spokespeople from a range of engineering and technology disciplines including cyber-security, energy, engineering skills, innovation, manufacturing, technology, transport and diversity in engineering.
  • For more information, visit www.theiet.org
  • Follow the IET on Twitter.

Media enquiries to:

Sophie Lockhart
Senior Communications Executive
E: slockhart@theiet.org

Rebecca Gillick
External Communications Manager
T: +44 (0)7725 498 129
E: rgillick@theiet.org