Why engineers should consider a move to teaching

May 17, 2022

To secure a strong engineering and technology workforce for the future, we need well qualified STEM teachers now, but schools continue to struggle to recruit them. In this month’s The Engineer column Dr Hilary Leevers, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, considers the importance of encouraging engineers into teaching.

“I’ve written in pretty much every monthly column about the workforce shortages in engineering and the various factors that underlie them, but I don’t think I’ve talked enough about teachers. In order to progress into engineering and technology, young people need to be taught the bedrock subjects by inspiring teachers with specialist knowledge. Unfortunately, there are shortages in the key feeder subjects that lead young people into these areas - mathematics, computer science, design & technology (D&T) – with shortages most acute in physics. Indeed, only about a fifth of physics teacher training places were filled in England this year, with similar issues, to a greater or lesser extent, across the country and, in fact, many other countries. There are also long-term problems in Further Education where engineering and construction are the subjects reporting the highest persistent vacancies.

“How can engineers help? Quite simply, more could choose to become teachers or lecturers in schools of colleges. I suspect that, for many engineers, teaching isn’t an obvious career choice – while there are some vocational courses in engineering, there isn’t an obvious mainstream subject, as compared with French undergraduates, say, who might see teaching French, as an obvious possible career option.

“In fact, many thousands of engineers do teach across STEM, but recruiting more into teaching could really boost the workforce. Admittedly, there is a little short-term pain in terms of slightly reducing the number of talent currently working in research and industry, but the long-term benefit would be well worth it.”


Read the full opinion piece on The Engineer website.

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