Encouraging UK students to choose science

BP is supporting programmes aimed at getting more young people interested in careers as scientists and engineers

Not enough UK students are choosing careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. In recent years, there has been an estimated shortfall of around 40,000 graduates in these fields each year.

Such a shortfall stands to affect both the UK economy and the companies that do business there, including BP. Our company needs skilled engineers, geologists and other technical specialists to support our activities, both in the UK and globally.

Aiming to change young people’s views about science

According to researchers at King's College London, an estimated 70% of the country's Year 6 and Year 8 pupils profess to finding science interesting. But less than 17% say they can see themselves following a science career in the future.

The gap appears to be largely rooted in social inequalities and young people's perceptions of which careers are accessible to people like them. Female and economically disadvantaged students being the most likely to say they believe science-based careers are not for them.

BP has partnered with King’s College London and the Science Museum in London to create Enterprising Science, a programme that we expect will bring new and engaging teaching tools and techniques to around 400,000 students in locations across the UK over a five-year period.

Through Enterprising Science, BP and the two partner organizations are developing and testing ways of building science capital among students, teachers and families – using activities that connect schools with a variety of informal science learning institutions around the UK, including museums.

The programme got under way in 2013, with teachers, students and families helping to develop activities that we expect to be used widely by the end of the UK’s 2014/15 academic year.

Helping teachers get students enthused

Enterprising Science builds on a previous five-year BP collaboration with the Science Museum, Talk Science, which focused on giving teachers the skills they need to inspire their students, by facilitating contemporary science discussions in classrooms.

Since 2008 BP has been a supporter of Project Enthuse, alongside the UK government and several other partner organizations. Like Talk Science, Project Enthuse is about helping teachers to spark a greater interest in science among their students - in this case by enhancing the teachers’ own knowledge and skills.

So far, more than 10,000 UK science teachers have received Enthuse Awards funding to attend career-development training through the National Science Learning Centre in York, England, or other teacher-training institutions around the country.

Related content