New summary updates key findings for educational pathways into engineering report

Jul 20, 2022

In recent years, EngineeringUK has published a suite of data tables covering the trends in STEM educational participation and attainment across academic and technical pathways into engineering. Going forward, the excel resource for secondary education, higher education and apprenticeships will be updated individually as the data becomes available and published alongside a summary of the key findings. The first of these for 2022 looks at the secondary education landscape, including trends in entries and achievements for GCSEs/National 5s and A-Levels/Highers across the UK.

Secondary engineering education

Secondary education is an important part of the pipeline  into engineering careers. Performance in STEM qualifications at this level is one of the main ways to predict whether young people will continue into the relevant higher education. This can then help to predict whether there will be enough people ready to work in the engineering sector in the future.

However, there are challenges for the engineering sector even at this early stage of the educational pathway. There is a critical shortage in STEM teachers, and a lack of presence of engineering on the curriculum. The report also shows a decline in entries for some of the STEM subjects that would facilitate a future career in engineering, and an underrepresentation of girls in the key STEM subjects that would allow the engineering workforce to become more gender diverse.

Key facts and figures

The Excel resource highlights some interesting facts and figures:

  • entries into GCSE single science subjects continue to rise at a higher rate than the 2% increase in the population of 16-year-olds – there has been a 4% increase in entries into physics, 3.9% increase in chemistry and 3.3% increase in biology entries over 1 year
  • there are far fewer girls compared to boys taking GCSE subjects such as engineering (13.9% female), computing (20.7% female) and design and technology (29.2% female)
  • maths, biology, chemistry and physics remain within the top ten most popular A level subjects to study, with maths being the most taken A level subject. Entries into computing A level have increased by 11.3% in the latest year to 2020/21, continuing its steady upwards trend in popularity
  • in Scotland, Advanced Highers in design and manufacture and engineering science have seen large increases in entries. Having attracted more than double the number of students in 2020/21 compared to 2019/20, both subjects have recovered following a dip in entries in recent years
  • since the Covid-19 pandemic started, the number of teachers teaching STEM subjects in state schools in England has decreased by nearly 5%. The highest teacher vacancy rates for 2019 were seen in information technology with 1.7 vacancies for every 100 filled roles

Take a look at the full summary and the Excel resource.

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