One in four children do not have role models, study claims

Children seek careers advice from celebrities in a bid for help


Rob Knight
Friday 14 December 2018 19:18 GMT
Budding young engineers create music video for pop trio New Hope Club

A study of more than 1,000 children aged 10 to 16 has found more than 25 per cent of them did not have a role model to look up to.

Rather than turning to teachers and parents for advice on careers, school work or fitting in, researchers found nearly half of the children polled turned to YouTube instead.

Similarly, 37 per cent revealed their first point of call for careers advice was a celebrity, who they tried to contact directly in a bid for help.

The research was commissioned by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET). It warned the lack of relatable role models for children could mean the UK’s shortage in engineering skills will continue.

David Lakin, head of education at the IET, said: “It’s worrying children are turning to celebrities and influencers for credible careers advice, rather than industry role models.

“The research shows there needs to be more mentor figures from science, technology, engineering and mathematics backgrounds, and this could be why, when it comes to career inspiration, engineering falls short.

“We need to continue to raise awareness of the vital role engineering plays in some of the UK’s most popular industries – from music to TV production and sport.

“These results show that social media is playing a huge role in shaping the future of children’s career aspirations and choices.”

The research also found some seven in 10 children are not aware of the vital role engineering plays in some of the most popular industries – including the music, film, sports, TV and vlogging industries.

In fact, very few – less than one-fifth – of those polled were able to name two or more engineers, mathematicians or scientists.

As part of the research, 1,000 parents were also surveyed. It emerged nearly half do not know who their children’s role models are.

And more than half admit they are worried about their children’s choice to look up to reality stars and celebrities, rather than to figures who are making a genuine difference to the world.

Carried out through OnePoll, IET’s research was commissioned to coincide with its partnership with pop trio, New Hope Club, and Blue Peter.

Together, they offered children nationwide the chance to engineer the band’s new Christmas music video and receive mentorship from industry professionals to learn about the key role engineering plays in the music industry.

Orla Murphy, former Young Woman Engineer of the Year, said: “Through the Sound of Engineering campaign, and by giving young people exposure to these key industry mentors, we’re able to show the wide breadth and variety of roles available in engineering in a bid to encourage them to consider the profession as an inspiring and rewarding career.”


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