Civil Engineers Express Concern about GCSE Subjects

Not enough STEM subjects being chosen by students and not enough teachers to teach them

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As thousands of London students got their GCSE results last week the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) London Region has commented on an Education for Engineering Report which states that up to half of GCSE students have lost the opportunity for a career in engineering due to choices made when they were aged 14.

Director of ICE London, Miranda Housden, said: “The report stresses that the UK must ensure it has an adequate supply of people working in science, engineering and technology roles to meet the needs of industry and the wider business community. The key first step to achieving this is to ensure that sufficient numbers of pupils are participating in and achieving good GCSEs or equivalent qualifications in science and mathematics at the age of 16.

“However, this report by E4E shows that a significant proportion of young people in England are not attaining good enough grades in the necessary qualifications to enable progression to science, engineering and technology careers. There is also strong evidence to suggest that many pupils across England are not even being given the chance to achieve their full potential in science subjects.

“These findings are worrying if we are to ensure that we have enough young people qualified to follow civil engineering careers.

“ICE London already works with a number of schools and colleges across London to help make young people aware of career opportunities in civil engineering.

“Many of our members give their time to work with young people and their teachers to promote civil engineering through the STEM Ambassador Scheme. We are very keen to encourage more schools and colleges to get involved with the scheme and any that are interested can email for more details.

“This month we launched a new award aimed at recognising those involved in this work which emphasises the high level of importance we place on working with young people in this way.”

Nick Baveystock, Director General of the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), said: “We wholeheartedly agree with the findings of the report; Government, Industry and schools themselves must ensure that students are presented with every opportunity possible to pursue the full-range of science GCSEs on offer. The fact that these opportunities vary according to where your school is located is extremely worrying.

“Infrastructure and construction works will play a major part in the UK’s economic recovery and Government’s commitment to the infrastructure agenda is encouraging.  But it is absolutely vital that we have a specialised and competent workforce, across all skill levels, to actually deliver it.

“Those with qualifications in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – the ‘STEM’ subjects – will be at the heart of this skills base and more needs to be done to ensure that the next generation of students are opting for these subjects.

“This includes the recruitment of specialist maths and science teachers, as well as ensuring there are impartial careers advisors, which will include our industry, who can show children what a career in engineering offers. Importantly, these advisors can also explain how to get onto the engineering career path as entry into the world of engineering doesn’t solely rely on a university education - apprenticeship courses offer an alternative first step on to the engineering ladder.”

More details on the report are available at

ICE London has more than 8,000 members living and working in the city. More information can be found at You can follow ICE London on Twitter: @ICE_London


August 31, 2012