Tackling the digital and engineering skills shortage: Understanding young people and their career aspirations

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
13 Downloads (Pure)


Machines, algorithms and people are coming together in new and exciting ways. This is changing the world of work with new jobs previously unimagined. It is crucial that we prepare our young people for this world, yet many of them do not aspire to, and are not choosing, careers in digital technology or engineering, particularly girls and those from socially-disadvantaged backgrounds. Furthermore, while much of the work in this area has focused on the aspirations of older children there is evidence that children’s aspirations are formed at an early age. The aim of this study is to explore the factors that influence younger children’s reported aspirations to jobs, and in particular STEM jobs. Data was gathered from children aged 7-11 (n= 622) across areas of deprivation in North East England. Children were asked about their career aspirations and the motivations behind these. Analysis of this data showed that the majority of children were aspirational in their career choices, with many reporting higher aspirations than their parents’ current jobs. A gender difference was evident across both aspirations and motivations, with many girls choosing STEM careers that help others. Very few of the children aspired to jobs in the digital and engineering sectors. These results demonstrate the criticality of early education stages are for children’s developing aspirations and the urgent need to adapt education so that all children, irrespective of gender or background, can be supported to grasp the opportunities presented by an ever-changing world.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE)
Place of PublicationPiscataway, NJ
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781728189611
ISBN (Print)9781728189628
Publication statusPublished - 21 Oct 2020
Event2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2020 - Uppsala, Sweden
Duration: 21 Oct 202024 Oct 2020

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Conference2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2020


Dive into the research topics of 'Tackling the digital and engineering skills shortage: Understanding young people and their career aspirations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this