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COVID-19 is making engineering ‘cool’

New research shows that young people have been inspired by engineers and other STEM professionals during the Coronavirus pandemic and are considering these roles for future careers.

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New research shows that young people have been inspired by engineers and other STEM professionals during the Coronavirus pandemic and are considering these roles for future careers.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) surveyed just over 1,000 people aged 10-18, finding that more than half (52 per cent) were considering a career in engineering after witnessing the role engineers played in building ventilators for the NHS.

Young people have also been inspired by scientists and medical professionals during the COVID-19 crisis, making STEM roles a ‘cooler’ career as a result, the research found. ‘Inventor’ and ‘engineer’ were considered cooler careers than being a TV presenter.

However, the gender gap in STEM still remains. Just 42 per cent of girls said COVID-19 had inspired them to consider careers in engineering, compared to 60 per cent of boys. Recent research showed that more than one million women now work in STEM professions, but this is still under a quarter of the total number of STEM professionals in the UK.

Ying Wan Loh, a Manufacturing Engineer for Rolls-Royce and IET’s Young Woman Engineer of the Year, said:

“The results from this new research are really positive. Despite the extremely challenging time the UK has faced over the last few months, it’s really encouraging to know that young people have been inspired by those working in STEM during the pandemic and are now considering careers in these fields.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has showcased our fantastic medical professionals, scientists and engineers who have been working so hard to find solutions. It’s put them front and centre during the crisis and raised awareness of how important STEM is to our daily lives. I know first-hand that working in STEM offers fantastic experiences, with opportunities to make a real difference.”

In July, Siemens revealed that apprentices and young engineers in Manchester and Congleton played a vital role in helping to produce 13,500 ventilators for the NHS during lockdown.

(Image: © Rolls-Royce PLC)

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