From education to employment

New briefing on further education updates key findings for educational pathways series

In recent years, EngineeringUK has published a suite of data tables covering the trends in STEM educational participation and attainment across academic and technical pathways into engineering. Going forward, the excel resource for each chapter will be updated individually as the data becomes available and published alongside a summary of the key findings.

The latest briefing and excel resource look at the qualifications available in further education, with 2 main categories: technical/vocational qualifications and apprenticeships.

A short summary of the briefing

The focus is on ‘engineering-related qualifications’, which – in line with previous EngineeringUK research – covers the ‘construction, planning and the built environment’, ‘engineering and manufacturing technologies’, and ‘information and communication technology’ sector subject areas.

This briefing looks at the recently introduced T levels and their aim being to create clearer vocational pathways into engineering, while also allowing the flexibility to move across different educational routes. Construction was one of the first T levels to be introduced in 2020/21, with engineering and manufacturing to follow from 2022/23.

It then looks at apprenticeships, which are an important route into engineering careers though numbers entering onto them have been impacted by reforms in recent years. Furthermore, when we look at the characteristics of apprentices, in terms of gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic background, there is less diversity among engineering than other subjects. This mirrors what we see in the engineering workforce and suggests that more work needs to be done to create more diversity amongst engineers for the future.

Key facts and figures

The excel resource on further education and apprenticeships in engineering highlights some interesting facts and figures:

  • in England, there has been a decline in uptake for all apprenticeship subjects of 35% from 2016/17 to 2020/21, with engineering-related apprenticeships declining by 30.3%
  • numbers starting degree or higher level engineering-related apprenticeships have been increasing up to 6,260 in 2020/21, whilst the intermediate and advanced level apprenticeships have decreased by 61% and 19% respectively
  • there is a promising upward trend for T level enrolments, with the construction T level more than quadrupling its intake from 250 in 2020/21 to 1,150 in 2021/22
  • engineering-related vocational qualifications made up 31% of all entries for 16-18 year olds in 2020/21
  • as seen in secondary education, we see higher attainment rates in women, with 87.4% achieving their engineering-related vocational qualification in 2020/21, compared to 84.4% of men

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