According to a survey of consumers conducted by YouGov for the IEEE, fewer ‘millennials’ (aged 18-34 years) think it’s important to teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects at primary and secondary school than do ‘baby boomers’ (aged 51-69 years), despite growing up in an age shaped by technology.
Among US respondents, 7 percent of the younger age group said they didn’t consider any of the four core subjects important to teach compared to 3 percent of the post-war generation. In Great Britain, 4 percent of the younger group said they didn’t value the subjects compared to 1 percent of their older counterparts. The online survey, conducted in late December 2014, questioned more than 2,000 adults in each country.
The majority in both nations and both age categories who do believe in the importance of the subjects stressed the importance of mathematics more than any other subject: in the UK, 82 percent millennials, 92 percent baby boomers; in US 75 percent millennials, 88 percent baby boomers. Engineering was considered important by the least number of people: in the UK 46 percent millennials, 51 percent baby boomers; in US 42 percent millennials, 46 percent baby boomers.
These results follow a report from Engineering UK which states the UK does not have either the current capacity or the rate of growth needed to meet the forecast demand for skilled engineers by 2020.
The relative importance attached to the teaching of each of the STEM topics by the two GB and US age groups was:
Engineering GB 46 percent millennials, 51 percent baby boomers; US 42 percent millennials, 46 percent baby boomers
Mathematics GB 82 percent millennials, 92 percent baby boomers; US 75 percent millennials, 88 percent baby boomers
Science GB 76 percent millennials, 79 percent baby boomers; US 68 percent millennials, 80 percent baby boomers
Technology GB 65 percent millennials, 76 percent baby boomers; US 60 percent millennials, 66 percent baby boomers
IEEE conducted similar research with MRSSIndia in India. There, 99 percent of the total base of more than 1,000 adult respondents thought it was important to teach all subjects, with science rating highest, followed by mathematics, then technology, with engineering rated last.