UK young not fazed over skills

13th July 2007 at 01:00

Teenagers are rejecting warnings that the country faces a crisis in the skills of its workforce, a survey has found.

According to a poll of 1,750 teenagers in Australia, China, Germany, India, the US and Britain, the UK's 14- to 18-year-olds are the least likely to believe that providing the right skills will be a major challenge in 2020.

That year is also used by Lord Leitch in his projections about the UK's skills, which convinced ministers they faced a drastic shortage.

Just 17 per cent of British teen-agers rate skills as a concern in the survey by the Institute of Engineering and Technology, while nearly three-quarters put climate change or energy consumption first.

In countries such as India and China, more than a third think skills are an important concern, while in Australia they are a top priority for nearly half of teenagers.

Britain also has the lowest regard for engineering as a career, with more than a fifth labelling it "boring", compared to just 2 per cent in China and 3 per cent in India, widely predicted to be future industrial powerhouses.

Professor Jonathan Osborne, from the science education department at King's College in London, said more advanced societies often have more negative opinions about science and technology. "It's a global phenomenon," he said.

Teenagers in the UK remain optimistic, with three quarters feeling confident about the future. But they sense that the country's best days may be over, with most believing they will work longer hours with little improvement in quality of life.

The report says young people will face an ageing society where they have to care for the elderly and their children at the same time, while also facing the economic impact of increasing energy costs.

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