Three-quarters of parents would recommend becoming an engineer to their kids, according to research to coincide with the start of Tomorrow's Engineers Week.
The week-long celebration, which starts today, features a series of national and regional activities organised by employers, government organisations and educational providers to inspire young people, their parents and teachers to learn more about career opportunities in engineering.
According to a poll carried out by Tomorrow’s Engineers, which is led by EngineeringUK and the Royal Academy of Engineering, nearly half (47 per cent) of secondary school children would consider a career in engineering with 29 per cent of those being girls.
However, only a third (34 per cent) said they know what to do next in order to become an engineer. More than half (56 per cent) of GCSE science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) teachers surveyed have been asked for advice about engineering careers by their pupils in the last year, yet only a third (36 per cent) felt confident giving such advice.
Paul Jackson, chief executive of EngineeringUK, said: "Engineering makes a significant contribution to UK GDP growth and engineering companies will have over 2.5 million job openings between 2012 and 2022 across a diverse range of disciplines.
“We're delighted to see that parents are so supportive of their children's engineering ambitions at a time when their talents are much-needed. However, the findings reveal a worrying lack of school support for young people. We urge schools to use the excellent Tomorrow's Engineers careers resources and website to inspire their students.
"At the same time, we call on engineering employers of every size and sector across the UK not only to give schools access to high-quality careers information and resources but to open their doors to show young people just how exciting a career as a 21st century engineer can be.
"Our overarching aim is to ensure that every 11-14-year-old has at least one employer-linked engineering experience to help them make the connection between classroom learning and career opportunities."
In a separate study of young engineers aged under 30 by EngineeringUK, a quarter (23 per cent) of those surveyed said they didn't consider engineering as a possible career choice when they were at school or college and 15 per cent were discouraged by a teacher.
However, 42 per cent of those that didn't consider an engineering career would have changed their mind if they had received better careers advice, information or inspiration, the study found, and 21 per cent if they had known what engineering careers involve.
Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Whether it's the cars we drive, the houses we live in or the clothes we wear, engineering is everywhere. Our engineers solve the problems of the world we live in and are powering the country's economic growth.
“We must do all we can to maintain the pipeline of talent to this important profession and that's why we're supporting Tomorrow's Engineers Week. By joining forces with industry, we can make every school child aware of the exciting opportunities in engineering and help every parent understand that engineering offers their child a great and fulfilling career."
In response to the call for industry action, oil and gas company Shell today announced a three-year investment in the Tomorrow's Engineers schools outreach programme of more than £1m.
Chairman of Shell UK Erik Bonino said: "We want to support and inspire a new generation of world-leading engineers and scientists who will fly the flag for British innovation. The school children of today can create the technical solutions of the future, but only if we show them the vast range of opportunities that STEM subjects and careers can offer.
“That's why we have pledged over £1m to help grow the Tomorrow's Engineers initiative and I urge the wider engineering community to lend their support too."
For more information, visit the Tomorrow's Engineers Week website.