Would you believe me if I said parents today are six times more likely to know who Justin Bieber is than who Elon Musk is? It’s a sad and frightening reality. However, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) have stepped in and partnered with 44 organisations and venues across the UK to deliver a range of talks, tours and demonstrations designed to inspire children and their parents about careers in engineering.
The tours, taking place during the summer holidays, offer insight into the vast range of careers available in engineering.
In advance of the activity, research from the IET into perceptions of engineering among parents has revealed that although the majority (93%) of parents claim to know what an engineer is, less than a quarter feel very confident in describing what an engineer actually does (23%).
The survey of over 2,000 parents of school aged children, which was undertaken to mark Engineering Open House Day on Friday 28th July, found that in contrast to engineering, parents felt very comfortable with describing what a teacher (64%), nurse (62%) and police officer (60%) does as a profession.
And it’s not just traditional careers that they find easy to describe. In fact, more parents are very comfortable describing what a YouTuber does (26%) compared with what an engineer does (23%).
Parents are six times more familiar with pop star Justin Bieber (77%) than famous engineer and entrepreneur Elon Musk (13%), who is currently ranked as the 21st most powerful man in the world by Forbes (13%). More parents can also recognise reality TV star, Joey Essex (57%), than Isambard Brunel (41%), who revolutionised the transport and engineering industry in England in the 19th century.
It’s estimated that 2 million jobs in engineering need to be filled by 2020, but the results show that despite over half of parents (56%) saying their child has an idea of their career goals, less than a quarter (22%) have mentioned engineering as an option.
Nigel Fine, Chief Executive of the Institution of Engineering and Technology, said: “Engineering is crucial in the world we live in, playing a role in everything from the phone we use to the apps we rely on, and the transport we take to the food we eat and the clothes we wear. The results highlight there is a gap in knowledge about the careers in engineering, at a time when it is really important to understand what a fantastic, creative and diverse career it can be.
“Now in its third year, Engineering Open House Day is a great example of how the industry can work together to showcase the exciting and challenging careers available to young people. We hope this day not only inspires young people to learn more about engineering, but that it enlightens parents about engineering too.”
Registrations for Engineering Open House Day are now open.
To find a local event in your area on Friday 28th July click here.