The importance of STEM outreach




Enginuity News , Insights , Enspire News


The UK’s engineering sector is facing a serious predicament. With nearly 20% of engineers due to retire in the next two years, and with 79% of firms reportedly struggling with recruitment, employers need to act now to fix future skills gaps.

To ensure the workforce has the necessary skills to meet challenges such as the net-zero transition, employers must recruit a diverse range of talented and enthusiastic young adults who can be trained and upskilled into vital roles – and that starts with STEM outreach.

What is STEM outreach?

STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) outreach aims to attract young people into these sectors.

Outreach might involve in-school events, clubs and competitions, work experience opportunities and on-site school trips. 

How does STEM outreach benefit employers?

STEM outreach can help close the skills gaps in engineering and manufacturing. As the future workforce, young people are key to this goal.

In a survey conducted by the Careers & Enterprise Company, nearly 89% of 1,149 professionals who volunteer at schools and colleges said outreach is an effective way to close skills gaps, while 84% said it helps to diversify the workforce.

STEM outreach can also benefit individual businesses, by shaping local skills development to allow for better recruitment potential. 

SMEs in particular stand to improve their public image, which also helps with recruitment, as well as general brand building.

Is STEM outreach currently working?

Fewer students taking up STEM careers can be put down to outdated educated systems and training programmes – and a lack of career knowledge in teachers.

Enginuity-commissioned research shows that only 30% of STEM teachers regularly include careers information in their lessons – 51% occasionally talk about STEM careers and 19% rarely do so. 

Of those teachers, 41% felt they didn’t know enough to inform their students about engineering careers.

What can employers do?

We need to upskill and empower teachers so they can provide better information for their students. 

This can be achieved by producing up-to-date resources, but employers can also be more hands-on at local schools, colleges and universities – for example, giving career talks, hosting site visits, offering work experience placements and hiring apprentices.

It’s important to show real world applications of qualifications to help students visualise their paths from school to employment and the kind of projects they could work on as professionals. In addition, showcasing often-underrepresented groups, such as women and POC, in STEM jobs is also crucial.

The Education Landscape: A Guide for Employers describes how employers can work with education organisations and the business benefits of doing so – download the guide here.

Enginuity tool: Enspire City

One of the tools we’ve created for STEM outreach is Enspire City – a virtual, interactive world that 8-14-year-old students can explore to learn about engineering careers. It’s free to use and can be played in the classroom or at home.

There are zones dedicated to cars, planes, vertical farming and space; within each area, users can find out more about the sector, from the qualifications needed to the types of projects engineers might work on – with an emphasis on sustainability and green energy jobs. There are links to our Skills Miner games, too.

At an event in 2023, 92% of students said they had an increased awareness of engineering as a career option after playing Enspire City, giving it a score of 7.42/10 for enjoyability.

Discover Enginuity’s STEM outreach products here.