Children in the UK are not aware of the full scope of opportunities stemming from science, technology, engineering and maths, a survey suggests.
Research commissioned by EngineeringUK and conducted through 1,002 parents of 11 to 16 year-olds in Britain, found that the three areas least recognised by children as needing Stem skills were crowdfunding websites, TikTok development and the metaverse.
Only 19 per cent of respondents realised crowdfunding websites such as JustGiving and GoFundMe were the achievements of those working in Stem. The percentage for TikTok development was a little higher at 24 per cent, while metaverse was linked to Stem by 33 per cent of those surveyed.
“The opportunities within Stem are endless, with some better known than others,” said Dr Hilary Leevers, chief executive of EngineeringUK.
“In our survey less than a quarter of young people realised that developing TikTok is an example of a career that needs Stem skills. It’s [a platform] most young people are familiar with and being able to show the huge variety of possibilities will hopefully encourage more young people to study and eventually work in Stem.”
At the other end of the recognition scale, no doubt influenced by the relentless publicity afforded by the coronavirus pandemic, 100 per cent of respondents realised vaccine development required Stem skills.
EngineeringUK Stem survey results - in pictures
Social media raising Stem awareness
The survey revealed children are now finding out about potential careers in the sphere by using social media platforms that have resulted from Stem ingenuity.
Thirty-seven per cent of 11 to 16 year-olds said they watched YouTube videos to learn about their future dream jobs, compared to 30 per cent who read books and 22 per cent who attended after-school classes or clubs.
Science and mathematics were voted favourite subjects by 65 per cent of both boys and girls in the survey.
“It’s really encouraging that young people are embracing Stem at an early age,” said Ms Leevers.
“We need more young people from all backgrounds to understand the role that Stem careers play and for more of them to go on to work in science, engineering and technology.
“Social media is a great tool and has been particularly useful during the pandemic to help young people gain an understanding of Stem.”
While the use of social media for Stem purposes has increased, the sector hasn't abandoned other modes of communication.
Previous research undertaken by EngineeringUK demonstrated that young people who attended a careers event with an employer, either online or in person, were around twice as likely to know about what engineers and scientists can do in their jobs and almost three times as likely to be interested in a career in engineering.
These findings have resulted in The Big Bang Fair, which is taking place in Birmingham, UK, this week. The free-to-attend event will feature scores of quality hands-on activities to inspire young people to discover and explore what a career in Stem can offer.
For those unable to get to the UK's second largest city in person, delegates can also register to attend digitally - another Stem development.