Securing a future for engineering

Written by: The Engineer
Published on: 1 Mar 2017

The UK needs a two-fold increase in the number of engineering graduates if it is to meet demand for 1.28 million new STEM professionals, including technicians by 2020, according to figures from Engineering UK. However, this can only be achieved if we tackle the immediate shortfall in physics teachers.

The shortage of specialist teachers has been identified as a significant barrier to reducing the skills gap in engineering; research has shown that schools that have specialist physics teachers see a greater proportion of students choosing to study the subject at A-Level - a requirement for many engineering degree courses.


Each year, engineers choose to move into teaching secondary physics, a challenging career choice that requires many of the skills possessed by an engineer: creativity, practical problem solving, an understanding of applied physics and the ability to communicate the subject. Gaining qualifications in engineering gives individuals entering teaching the ability to encourage and nurture the engineers of tomorrow.

The UK government provides financial support to help increase the number of graduates training to teach physics. Bursaries of up to £30,000 tax-free funding are available to engineering graduates and career changers for their teacher training year, and the Institute of Physics (IOP) also awards a number of scholarships to engineers who choose to embark on careers in teaching physics. The scholars receive £30,000 tax-free funding, as well as support which includes CPD events and membership of a professional body. 

An IOP scholar with a degree in medical engineering explained why he chose to teach: “I’ve done some exciting things since my own education - in the workplace and around the world. However, I don’t think those experiences compare to the buzz of working in the learning environment of a school.”

The IOP’s head of education, Charles Tracy, said: “We believe that all school students have the right to a high quality physics education, and it is specialist teachers that make this possible. As well as making excellent physics teachers, engineering graduates can provide insights into engineering and engineering pathways for their students.”

Find out more about training to teach physics at

For more information, contact Nicole Averiss
Tel: 020 7470 4915

The Institute of Physics is a leading scientific membership society working to advance physics for the benefit of all.

We have a worldwide membership of more than 50,000, from enthusiastic amateurs to those at the top of their fields in academia, business, education and government.

Our purpose is to gather, inspire, guide, represent and celebrate all who share a passion for physics. And, in our role as a charity, we’re here to ensure that physics delivers on its exceptional potential to benefit society.

Alongside professional support for our members, we engage with policymakers and the public to increase awareness and understanding of the value that physics holds for all of us.

Our subsidiary company, IOP Publishing, is a world leader in scientific communications, publishing journals, ebooks, magazines and websites globally.

Follow Physics World at @PhysicsWorld and the Institute of Physics at @PhysicsNews for more information about our publication and news from IOP.