Schools Careers

Changes to career guidance could lead to engineer shortage

Planned changes to careers guidance in schools may lead to a shortage of people pursuing careers like engineering.

The Institution’s Careers Information Advice and Guidance policy statement says that lack of industry involvement and the scrapping of face-to-face counselling in schools could be hugely damaging to the UK economy.

“The UK’s career advice system is still sorely lacking and we need to be boosting funding to ensure we can steer talented young people into careers which are vital to the country’s future like engineering and science,” said Dr Colin Brown, director of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

“Instead the country is cutting funding, scrapping face-to-face counselling in schools and there is still insufficient involvement from industry.”

The report says that the UK needs 31,100 new graduate engineers every year for the next five years in order to meet industry demand, rebuild the country’s infrastructure, develop the UK manufacturing sector and more fundamentally to support the country’s economy.

“We need the people in industry who are creating these jobs to provide careers advice, particularly given that many teachers and career advisors are unaware of the realities of working in different industries,” Dr Brown added.

“It could prove hugely damaging to the country’s economy if we do not address the issue of substandard careers advice, with many industries losing out on employing talented individuals.”

The policy statement recommends that:

• All secondary schools should have access to transparent national and local Labour Market Information to provide 14 to 19-year-olds with a greater understanding of national and local labour market and employer needs. Where possible, schools should also establish an advisory panel of local and regional employers.

• Careers advisory agencies should each have a professional specialist in engineering and technology careers with an entitlement to Careers Profession Alliance Continuing Professional Development when developed.

• STEM teachers throughout the UK should be entitled to develop continuously their understanding of STEM careers, allowing them to advise students better on the up-to-date potential for employment.

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