Ready, SET Go: A Review of SET Study and Career Choices

Pollard E, Jagger N, Perryman S, Van Gent M, Mann K |   | Engineering Technology Board | Jun 2003

Guided by its expert advisory Education Panel, the Engineering Technology Board (ETB) and its research partners have addressed concerns over the declining number of students pursuing a career in science, engineering and technology (SET) and identifying the points at which talented individuals are deterred from starting or continuing down that path.

This report by IES explores the role of career services in making SET more appealing, especially to women.

In career terms, one in seven pupils at secondary school would choose a career in engineering, though the majority of these are boys: only one per cent of girls definitely wanted to become professional engineers.

Most pupils do feel, however, that engineering is important to everyday life. By age 17, about seven per cent of pupils appear to choose engineering as a career; role models appear influential.

There is evidence too of a 'negative image' of engineering, based on the view that it is dirty, manual, intellectually undemanding work or even 'boring' work.

Decisions about jobs are generally made at an early stage. By late primary school most pupils have rejected most jobs on the basis of their perception. In contrast, a 2001 European Union report found engineering to be one of the most highly esteemed professions in Europe, a finding mirrored in the United States.

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