The engineering profession has been rated as one of the top five most trusted professional groups in the latest Ipsos Veracity Index, the longest running poll on public trust in key professions in Britain.
The 26th edition of the survey covering 30 different professions reveals that the top five most trusted professions to tell the truth in order are nurses (88%), airplane pilots (87%), librarians (86%), engineers and doctors (both 85%). Trust in nurses, doctors and engineers remains at a similar level to the 2022 Ipsos Veracity Index while airplane pilots and librarians are new entries to the latest survey.
In 2020, the engineering profession, which makes up 19% of the workforce, scored 89%.
The survey reveals that trust in the engineering profession is similar for both females (86%) and males (85%).
Interestingly, trust in the profession varies among different income groups. Whereas 90% of people earning more than £50,000 trust engineers, this fell to 80% for people earning less than £25,000.
The engineering profession’s regulatory body the Engineering Council, which sets and maintains internationally-recognised standards of professional competence, commitment and ethics, welcomed the poll findings.
“It’s great to see engineers maintaining their high ranking on the 2023 Ipsos Veracity Index as one of the most trusted professions among the British public,” said Paul Bailey, the Engineering Council’s CEO.
“Such a high level of trust in engineers is primarily down to their high level of professionalism which is exemplified by professional registration with the Engineering Council, a means of providing that assurance of competence and a continuing commitment to professionally develop.”
The Engineering Council says that professionally-registered engineers and technicians are required to maintain and promote high ethical standards in their work and to challenge unethical behaviour.
The regulatory body and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng) have jointly produced a Statement of Ethical Principles, which outlines the four fundamental principles for ethical behaviour and decision making.
“Such a high level of trust in engineers is primarily down to their high level of professionalism”
According to the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), the survey shows that there is a higher level of distrust of the profession among younger people and suggests this may be because this age group has a lower awareness of the profession and what people in it do.
The IET runs the annual Engineer a Better World campaign and has used its recent Young Woman Engineer of the Year Awards to change perceptions among younger people.
Similarly, the findings from research commissioned by the RAEng and published in November 2023 suggest that outdated perceptions of the profession – particularly among young people – could hold back the UK’s transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.
This research finds that 28% of 18-34-year-olds believe engineering jobs are better suited to men, compared to just 10% of over 55s. Also, 39% of 18-34-year-olds believe the myth that engineering jobs are mainly based in factories and building sites, compared to just 13% of over 55s.
The RAEng together with EngineeringUK has run the annual National Engineering Day campaign since November 2019 to encourage more young people, from all backgrounds, to consider engineering careers.