MILWAUKEE -- The American Society for Quality has learned that when it comes to kids’ dream jobs, engineering is not on the list. An overwhelming 85 percent of youth say they are not interested in a future engineering career, according to a recent survey of youth and adults conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of ASQ.
According to the survey, the top three reasons why kids aren’t interested in engineering:
- Kids don’t know much about engineering (44 percent).
- Kids prefer a more exciting career than engineering (30 percent).
- They don’t feel confident enough in their math or science skills (21 percent) to be good at it. This is despite the fact that the largest number of kids ranked math (22 percent) and science (17 percent) as their favorite subjects.
Findings from the adult survey on this topic show:
- Only 20 percent of parents have encouraged/will encourage their child/children to consider an engineering career.
- The vast majority of parents (97 percent) believe that knowledge of math and science will help their children have a successful career.
The ASQ survey among youth ages 8-17 as well as among parents aimed to provide a better understanding about the perceptions of selecting an engineering career in light of a troubling shortage, which will reach 70,000 by 2010 based on an estimate by the National Science Foundation.
The survey also found the following gender differences:
- More girls say their parents are likely to encourage them to become an actress than the number who say their parents are likely to encourage them to become an engineer. Other careers that parents encouraged girls to think about include doctor, lawyer, teacher, veterinarian, nurse and businessperson.
- Boys are significantly more likely than girls to say they are interested in an engineering career.
- 31 percent of boys vs. 10 percent of girls say their parents have encouraged them to think about an engineering career.
“The shortage of 70,000 engineers by 2010 will likely cause less focus on innovation toward quality as well as aging and outdated standards,” said Cheryl Birdsong-Dyer, ASQ member and process engineer. “In addition, knowledge transfer from retiring engineers to incoming engineers will continue to weaken threatening progress. This will increase infrastructure costs for generations to come.”
In an effort to raise awareness, as well as promote engineering as a career choice, ASQ is developing a webinar for young people and parents that will be made available on the ASQ Web site, www.asq.org/manufacturing, during National Engineers Week, February 15-21.