Impact framework

We want all engineering outreach and engagement activities to have a real and positive impact in informing and inspiring young people about engineering careers.

We have developed an impact framework for engineering outreach that reflects how we believe engineering outreach activities can collectively make an impact on young people’s educational and career choices.

A multi-faceted issue requires a multi-faceted solution. Over the course of their lifetime, young people are influenced by a multitude of factors and actors that together affect their educational and career choices.

We have set out to provide a framework the sector can use to map activities and organisations against specific outcomes and stages within young people’s journeys – and in doing so, better assess the purpose of these activities/organisations and how they work together.

The framework use the COM-B approach often used in theory of change models. A Theory of Change can provide a useful starting point, not just for programme design, but for developing good evaluation frameworks which focus on measuring success, not just activity.In this context the model is that young people are supported to have the capability, opportunity and motivation to make an informed choice as to whether to pursue an engineering career – and more do so.

Young people have the skills necessary to pursue educational and career routes into engineering

Young people know the next steps – and have access to the opportunities – to pursue routes into engineering

Young people are motivated to imagine an engineering occupation as a possibility for them

No one organisation will be able to single-handedly increase the number and diversity of young people entering engineering. So, we need to aim to facilitate longer-term collaborative work to develop coordinated approaches to evaluation and impact measurement.

The impact framework looks at what is in our power to influence and measure and helps identify the intermediate outcomes to achieve the overarching goal of a diverse engineering workforce that meets the needs of the UK, now and into the future.

It is important to consider how what we each do contributes to our collective goal by facilitating intermediate outcomes that support young people in their decision-making processes. This focus on  specific objectives lends itself to more robust evaluation of our outreach work, since we can be more concrete about what constitutes success and how we go about measuring it.

The impact framework draws on a review of existing literature as well as interviews and workshops with expert stakeholders and we hope to refine it as our evidence base grows.

More details of the impact framework and associated resources, including webinars, are available in the Research and evaluation area of the Tomorrow’s Engineers website.