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Why aren’t more young people carrying their interest in STEM into adult life?

Despite young children finding STEM interesting, they’re likely to drop these subjects.

Safeera Sarjoo
31st August 2016
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A study by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) found that even though 67% of 4 – 12 year olds found STEM subjects interesting, they were likely – girls especially - to drop these subjects in adulthood and not carry them through to their A Levels or at university.

Naomi Climer, IET President said: ‘We know that parents are role models and influencers over their children’s futures, so it’s crucial that they support their children – particularly girls – as much as possible if they are showing an interest in science, engineering, technology and maths.’

Considering that only 5% of 4 -12 year olds would drop science, design & technology from their studies show their interest at a young and impressionable age – so we have to ask ourselves, where are we going wrong?

Well, old stereotypes surrounding STEM subjects may be a driving factor and the notion that perhaps attaining a job in the industry is difficult. It’s natural to slowly lose interest in a subject but if young people are dropping these subjects because they feel that the landscape is either too competitive or isolating, then this is an issue educators and the industry need to address immediately.

Climer continued: ‘That’s why we’re holding our Engineering Open House Day this month – to give parents the opportunity to bring their children along, for free, to venues like the Victoria & Albert Museum, the BBC, Shell and the National Theatre, and go behind the scenes to explore the creativity and diversity that lies within.’

In addition to showing the possibilities within STEM and how exciting it can be working with some top companies, it’s also important to actively ensure that the working environment which may not be as apparent is suited to both men and women who are entering the industry. We’ve seen how women are likely to quit their STEM careers in Australia because of a lack of advancement opportunities and work place culture.

It’s so important that we don’t create the same kind of environment for women in the UK which is why leading industry names should be vocal in welcoming women and explaining clearly the type of opportunities they can offer them.

The government is set to also drop Design & Technology from the curriculum, which will naturally escalate the issue as fewer students will be able to engage with these subjects and develop an understanding of what it takes and means to work within these areas.

If we want a higher uptake and continuation of studies in these subjects then schools have to find a way to ensure that students are exposed to the problem solving aspects that engineering involves and the creativity that is needed when it comes to design.

How else can we foster that interest and nurture it into a fruitful career?


STEM subjects are an incredibly important gateway to so many job opportunities. If you’ve always wanted a career in Science, Engineering or something particularly niche, start your search with Training and Courses today.

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