IET urges reform in GCSE engineering rather than removal

A Government proposal to remove GCSE engineering could make the skills crisis an even bigger cause of concern for UK employers, warns the Institution of Engineering & Technology (IET). The IET has already highlighted this concern to Ofqual following its proposal to streamline the number of GCSE courses in manufacturing, electronics and engineering as a result of low numbers of students studying the courses.

However, analysis of the 2014 GCSE results shows a 73% increase in students successfully studying GCSE engineering compared to 2013 (5027 compared to 2897).

Paul Davies, IET head of policy, said, ‘It is imperative that GCSE engineering be reformed rather than removed. One of the reasons given for removing this subject is due to the low student numbers. However, the results published [for this year’s GCSE results] show a large increase.

‘GCSE Engineering is widely recognised as a significant route to providing the crucial technical skills that young people need to succeed in industry. According to the IET skills survey, 44% of engineering, IT and technical recruits do not meet the employers’ expected level of skills.’

He argues that it is important to engage students with the discipline of engineering as early as possible. ‘These subjects build on key skills applicable to many areas and develop a systems-thinking approach in addition to allowing for the application of mathematics.’

Paul Davies is concerned that these skills might not be adequately covered by the proposed design and technology syllabus.

The IET’s annual survey of skills and demand for engineering and technology in industry found that 59% of companies indicated concerns that a shortage of engineering would be a threat to the future of their businesses.

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