Our careers, our future: STEM careers provision and young people

Published in September 2020, this research briefing looks at young people’s experiences and perspectives of careers provision and engineering. Our findings suggest that young people want more opportunities to engage with employers, through work experiences, job fairs and site visits. They expressed a need for more information, advice and guidance within schools, through career days, online resources and access to expert advice. Young people also called for more information on relevant exams or qualifications needed to pursue a career and clarity on different pathways into various professions.

Our careers, our future draws on findings from our recent survey ‘Young People and Covid-19’, our Engineering Brand Monitor (EBM) as well as case studies directly from young people. It includes findings related to young people’s access to careers activities since school closures in March 2020. This briefing also summarises current provision of careers education in schools and colleges, evidencing gaps in access and quality.

It highlights the importance of engineering and STEM careers provision in the context of uncertainty about the future that young people are facing, and how opportunities to learn about and pursue educational and career pathways into engineering could be made more accessible and equitable. As careers strategies across most of the UK are ending in 2020, the findings presented in this briefing are timely and insightful to consider for future careers provision. Improvements will be necessary to ensure STEM careers provision is accessible for every young person, regardless of where they live, their age group, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or access to digital devices.

Considering young people’s experiences and perspectives, alongside wider research, the findings presented in this briefing highlight the need for government, educational institutions and the broader STEM community to:

  • Leverage employer encounters and provide opportunities for young people to experience the world of STEM work
  • Tailor careers information, advice and guidance to different age groups and educational stages
  • Provide information on the variety of pathways into engineering as well as advice and guidance on ‘next steps’
  • Offer training and support for teachers, parents and carers as they play an important role in influencing young people’s career choices
  • Reach young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who may be less able to access digital careers provision

Download the report