A "CRITICAL" shortage of engineers has sparked calls for a more exciting maths and science curriculum.
Engineers Australia estimates there is a shortage of about 20,000 engineers in Australia.
The association''s chief executive, Peter Taylor, has called for an increased focus on maths and the sciences because he said the engineering shortage as becoming critical.
"At secondary level, there is a disturbing trend for students to lose interest in science and mathematics," he said.
"Primary school curricula should be designed to present ... concepts in ways that will excite, interest and motivate our young children to pursue secondary and tertiary studies, and then careers, in engineering and technology."
Professor Peter Dowd, the University of Adelaide''s executive dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Computers and Mathematical Sciences, said now was the time to act.
He said places for engineering students at the university had almost doubled, from 537 commencing students in 2005 to 965 this year.
"I think, often subjects are taught within their own boundaries and students don''t see the relevance of what they''re learning," he said. "So there needs to be more focus on the context, the careers and problems that can be solved."
Professor Dowd suggested making maths, science, English and the humanities compulsory for senior school students. This could open doors for students to study and work in engineering.
South Australian Secondary Principals Association president Jim Davies said the solution to the shortage was in the options provided to students.
He said students needed to understand the career options available in engineering. "It''s a bit like an engineer is not an engineer any more - doctors are not just GPs. The education program has to reflect that."
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