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Today's pupils, tomorrow's engineers! Pedagogy and policy: a UK perspective

Robin Clark (Aston University, Birmingham, UK)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Article publication date: 12 July 2011




This paper aims to provide a critical analysis of UK Government policy in respect of recent moves to attract young people into engineering. Drawing together UK and EU policy literature, the paper considers why young people fail to look at engineering positively.


Drawing together UK policy, practitioner and academic‐related literature the paper critically considers the various factors influencing young people's decision‐making processes in respect of entering the engineering profession. A conceptual framework providing a diagrammatic representation of the “push” and “pull” factors impacting young people at pre‐university level is given.


The discussion argues that higher education in general has a responsibility to assist young people overcome negative stereotypical views in respect of engineering education. Universities are in the business of building human capability ethically and sustainably. As such they hold a duty of care towards the next generation. From an engineering education perspective, the major challenge is to present a relevant and sustainable learning experience that will equip students with the necessary skills and competencies for a lifelong career in engineering. This may be achieved by promoting transferable skills and competencies or by the introduction of a capabilities‐driven curriculum which brings together generic and engineering skills and abilities.

Social implications

In identifying the push/pull factors impacting young people's decisions to study engineering, this paper considers why, at a time of global recession, young people should select to study the required subjects of mathematics, science and technology necessary to study for a degree in engineering. The paper identifies the long‐term social benefits of increasing the number of young people studying engineering.


In bringing together pedagogy and policy within an engineering framework, the paper adds to current debates in engineering education providing a distinctive look at what seems to be a recurring problem – the failure to attract young people into engineering.



Clark, R. (2011), "Today's pupils, tomorrow's engineers! Pedagogy and policy: a UK perspective", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 227-241.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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