Global engineering giant BAE systems has launched a national educational roadshow in the hopes of reversing the declining interest in science and maths at school.
It has teamed up with the Royal Air Force to stage theatre-based shows and workshops at around 250 schools across the country, aimed at inspiring the next generation of scientists, engineers and technologists.
Robot host ‘Brains’ hosted the first show at Dame Burdett-Coutts primary school in London, along with Blue Peter presenter Andy Akinwolere (pictured).
Nigel Whitehead, group managing director at BAE Systems, told E&T: “We recognise that from our position in the ecosystem in the UK in terms of engineering, science and manufacturing, we’re in a unique position to actually get out to the next generation and inspire them on the subjects of engineering and science.
“If we’re to look after the future of our sector the onus is on us is to use the knowledge and unique vantage point we have to spread the word.”
Studies by industry body Engineering UK have found that just 10 per cent of pupils continue studying science after the age of 16, and warn that the number of 18-year-olds continuing their study of science, technology, engineering and maths subjects could fall by a further 16 per cent.
Whitehead blamed this on a lack of awareness of the “interesting and exciting” career opportunities that could be found in the science and engineering sector.
“Science and maths begin to get tough when you get to the age of 14 and that can be scary,” he explained.
“We’re trying to bridge that gap in terms of awareness by saying there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and that it’s worth the hard work because the interest and excitement you get from the job makes it all worthwhile.”
He said it was important to reverse the trend of declining interest in the sector to ensure a strong economy and society in the future.
“We think we see a direct correlation between spreading the word and inspiring the next generation.
“We hope that the direct applicants we have to our business in the future will say to us they were inspired by our roadshow, that they’ve thought about engineering and maths and seen it in different light and as a result are interested in pursuing it as a career,” he said.
Pupils and teachers can access online resources at www.baesystems.com/education