A new study has shown that a radical shift in the way children are taught from primary school upwards is needed to nurture their natural talents as engineers.

According to a report commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering, there is essentially no teaching related to engineering at primary school level, and the quality at secondary school level is highly variable. The report also states that despite good teaching standards at higher education, a lack of encouragement of children’s natural inquisitiveness and problem solving capacity at an early age means the supply of students with an engineering mind-set at degree level is well below what is needed to ease the threat of a skills shortage.

Patrick Phelan, Managing Director of Aquaterra Energy, said: “While more young people are now choosing to follow careers in science, maths and engineering, nurturing these skills from a younger age is needed to help guide young people into our industry from primary school age.

“Aquaterra Energy provides valuable work experience and high quality, paid apprenticeships for young people, in partnership with a number of learning institutions across the UK. Yet this report clearly shows that more must be done to help children at a much younger age harness and develop their natural engineering abilities. By encouraging stronger collaboration between industry, education, and government, Aquaterra Energy believes we can secure a brighter future for young people.”

Young children are naturally suited to engineering and its relevant skills, according to the report, but as they grow older the education system moves them away from practical learning to become more theoretical and abstract, which can cause their natural engineering abilities to diminish over time.