By 2023 science, research, engineering and technology jobs are expected to make up 7.8% of all jobs in the UK and occupy 2.5m roles – if your child enjoys their maths, science or technology lessons at school then encourage them to pursue their passions. Perhaps they have a natural talent for taking things apart (and hopefully putting them back together) and can already see engineering as a pathway? Read on to find out how you can help them make the right choices whilst still at school.
Engineers build the future. Using scientific knowledge, they problem solve and design and build solutions for everyday life - behind every new bridge, building and innovation there’s engineering skills. The projects and disciplines they operate in are limitless - they work in almost every area that involves people. Pretty cool.
Here are just a few of the specialisms open to someone that wants to be an Engineer. Bear in mind a lot of these skills are transferrable between industries:
- Agricultural engineer
Develops cutting edge new technology to make managing large areas of agricultural and forests easier
- Aerospace Engineer
Designs, builds and maintains planes, spacecrafts and satellites – 3, 2, 1… Take off.
- Chemical engineer
Develops ways to turn raw materials into everyday products such as making plastic from oil
- Civil engineer
Designs and manages construction projects from bridges and buildings to transport links and sports stadiums
- Defence Engineer
Develops and produces technology to sustain national and international peace and security
- Electrical engineer
Designs, builds and maintains electrical equipment, systems and machinery
Ensures equipment and machinery are safe and easy to use for example the mouse and keyword you use in the office
- Marine Engineer
Designs, builds, tests and repairs boats, ships and submarines as well as water-based drilling equipment
- Systems Engineer
Makes production processes as efficient as possible so factories can deliver products on budget and on time
- Telecoms Engineer
Installs broadband, mobile and landline phone networks as well as satellite, digital TV and fibre optic systems
Salaries in engineering begin around £27,000 per year while the average salary for all engineers working in the UK is close to £40,000. In a senior level, you could earn between £60,000 and £80,000 depending on the type of engineering role.
Most engineering roles require you to have either a recognised certification or degree but there are also lots of apprenticeships where you can earn and learn - choosing a specialism will be your first challenge. In the last few years more and more schools are offering Engineering as a subject at GCSE or Standard Grade allowing your child to get a real taste for it before they take make their post-16 choices.
During GCSEs or Standard Grades, you could opt to study:
- Art & Design
- Business Studies
- ‘Triple Science’ Physics + Biology + Chemistry
For academic subjects such as A Levels or Highers, you can study:
- Further Mathematics
- Applied Physics
- ICT/Computer Science
- Advanced Science
Related subjects include:
- Design and Technology
- Graphic Design
- Business Studies
Skills you need
If your child likes to find out how things are made, here are just some of the skills that will be useful in the future and they can work on developing.
- Good communication skills
- The ability to reason using numbers
- Creative problem solving
- Logical thinking
- Excellent maths skills
- IT skills including computer aided design or manufacturing (CAD or CAM)
Work experience is a good way for your child to apply knowledge and build skills for the industry they want to enter, which can be in the form of volunteering, shadowing, internships or engineering-related work placements.
Alternatively, during university, depending on the course, it may include a year in industry (known as a four-year sandwich course) where they can build a network of contacts and get real workplace experience. Extra-curricular activities that give them the opportunity to use their engineering, manufacturing and technological skills are also useful to include on job applications – their school may have some after school clubs they can join.
Although many women are already in this type of career, there’s still more work to do to attract women into the science industry as whole. The UK is trailing behind Europe in terms of female representation - currently making up just 16% of the workforce.
Many companies, including EDF Energy, are committed to helping address the lack of women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). We run a number of STEM initiatives including the Pretty Curious programme which sets out to challenge what girls’ think they know about STEM. There are some amazing careers that use science and it’s our job to help inspire girls to look differently at STEM using strong female role models and creative digital and hands-on experiences.
- You could find a role model in a friend or colleague that can encourage them through their own experiences.
- There are many free exhibitions and events that bring science to life outside of the classroom, for example take a look at our eight UK-wide visitor centres where you can explore science in a fun free and family-friendly way every school holiday or weekend.
- Be supportive - we’re all unique in our passions and it doesn’t matter if they aren’t sure what they want to do yet.
- Be patient, encouraging and provide the support they need to find their way whether that’s with tutoring, extracurricular activities or just celebrating their successes.
- You could encourage your child to look at volunteering for organisations that marry with their interests. They get to explore a variety of working environments, develop employability skills and make new friends all of which will boost their confidence. You can find a list of volunteer opportunities here.
- If your child is unsure of the subjects to take, you could encourage them to speak to a careers advisor or explore the below resources for guidance:
My World of Work – choosing GCSE options
Prospects career guide
The Complete University Guide
Which? guide to university
- Your child is young and it’s okay for them to change their minds. Roma who was part of the team that design London’s iconic Shard building, did just that – watch her story in 360°.