Department for Education written question – answered on 15 September 2023.

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Photo of Alexander Stafford Alexander Stafford Conservative, Rother Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to encourage school leavers to become engineers.

Photo of Robert Halfon Robert Halfon Minister of State (Education)

Science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) skills are in demand by employers across the country and demand is growing. The department is committed to delivering the Talent and Skills strand of the UK Science and Technology Framework, a cross-government strategy which aims to cement the UK’s status as a science and technology superpower by 2030. Further information about the strand is available at: The department is investing in STEM education at all levels so people have access to high-quality STEM teaching and can access STEM career opportunities, including roles in engineering. The department supports school leavers by:

  • Providing an excellent STEM curriculum which gives students the skills they need for future careers, including the opportunity to study GCSE Engineering.
  • Raising awareness and inspiring young people to consider engineering as a career.
  • Developing a strong technical education system that offers new opportunities for young people.

More students are being encouraged into entering STEM courses across all stages of education. The number of students studying STEM subjects is already growing. Since 2010, there has been a 31% proportional increase in STEM A level entries by 16-to-18-year-olds in England. Since 2017, students have had the opportunity to study an Engineering GCSE in which they can develop the subject knowledge, skills and understanding to solve engineering problems, as well as understanding engineering’s contribution to society and the economy. The Design and Technology curriculum was also developed to provide the skills pupils need to become the next generation of British designers and engineers.

Careers guidance is a vital step on the ladder of opportunity, setting individuals on the path to success and allowing talent to flourish. The department is investing over £34 million in 2023/24 to help schools and colleges improve their careers programmes for young people. Over 4,000 senior business volunteers are supporting schools and colleges in Careers Hubs to develop career strategies and employer engagement plans. In 2021/22, 81% of institutions in well-established Careers Hubs involved 10 or more businesses in careers activity, including many in the engineering sector. The Careers Enterprise Company who established the Careers Hubs have also worked with Engineering UK to develop a resource for employers around virtual work experience for young people to increase access to opportunities.

On top of this, the National Careers Service also supports young people over 13 and all adults in England with careers advice. The website includes around 800 job profiles, covering a range of industry sectors including engineering available at:

The government also supports programmes such as STEM Ambassadors, which inspires young people from under-served backgrounds to engage with STEM subjects and consider STEM careers. The department is a partner signatory to the Tomorrow’s Engineers Code which works with the engineering community to improve the quality, targeting, inclusivity and reach of engineering specific inspiration activities.

For young people that want to explore engineering as a career and pursue further education, departmental technical reforms are designed to provide them with a quality education which equips them with the skills and experience to meet employers needs and enable them to get great jobs. 21 Institutes of Technology (IoTs) are being established across the country, providing access to industry standard facilities which focus on the needs of employers and learners in their specific geographical areas. IoTs aim to help close skills gaps in STEM sectors, including engineering and manufacturing.

T Levels, a two-year technical qualification alternative to A levels, are boosting access to high-quality technical education for thousands of young people and creating our skilled workforce of the future. 11 T Levels are now available in STEM subjects, including Engineering and Manufacturing, opening up great careers to young people and helping to address the UK’s STEM skills gap.

Apprenticeships are a great way for school leavers to receive high-quality training and start a career in engineering. The department is increasing investment in apprenticeships to £2.7 billion by financial year 2024/25. Employers in the engineering and manufacturing sectors have developed over 150 apprenticeship standards, right through to Masters level.

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