THE NEXT ALBERT EINSTEIN?

Almost half (45%) of children across the UK say that the coronavirus pandemic has led them to become more interested in pursuing a career in science, technology and innovation, according to new findings announced today as part of a drive to encourage Brits to have a smart meter installed in their homes.

The research surveyed over 2,000 11–16-year-old children and found that months of ‘following the science’ has had a profound impact on the next generation’s career aspirations. Indeed, a third (37%) of children say that the coronavirus pandemic has made them consider a career as a scientist and the majority (51%) are now more likely to view scientists as role models. In fact, a fifth (22%) of children say they wish they could live a day in the life of Albert Einstein and as many (73%) have heard of Professor Chris Whitty as they have Professor Brian Cox.

Half (50%) of children say they dream about inventing something that could change the world. Three out of five (57%) would love to invent a product to solve the climate crisis and 39% would most like to discover a way for people with serious illnesses to live longer, while almost a third (30%) want to find a new method to ensure everyone can breathe clean air free from pollution.

Existing technology is of course laying the groundwork for the smart tech and climate-friendly innovations that will be created by future generations. For example, smart meters, which have already replaced over 24 million analogue gas and electricity meters across Great Britain, are upgrading our aging energy system to one that makes greater and more efficient use of renewable energy and helps tackle climate change.

Not only that, but smart meters will help to enable the development of future green technologies and services, so by getting one installed today, you are paving the way for the next generation’s innovations and inventions. Children have also had their say on the most important issues that they feel scientists need to address right now. The climate crisis (56%) is the leading cause of concern, followed by renewable energy (41%) and healthcare (38%).

Given the opportunity to invent anything they like, children jumped at the chance to prioritise making the world a better place. Popular choices included a way to instantly recycle material such as plastic, a way to clean the ocean floors of waste, and addressing world hunger.

Some children, however, looked a little closer to home with inventions such as calorie free chocolate, an everlasting pizza, a robot to do their chores around the house and even discovering the secret to immortality. Popular culture-inspired choices such as a time travelling machine, flying cars and clothing to make you invisible were also common suggestions in the findings.

As a result of this renewed love for innovation, STEM careers are among the most popular career choices for the children of today. Becoming a scientist (44%) or an engineer (42%) topped the polls for jobs that children are most interested in pursuing, ahead of other traditional careers such as teacher (36%) or a doctor (35%). In a sign of the times, two out of five (40%) children aspire to become a social media influencer and a quarter (27%) would like to be a reality TV star.

The average young person expects to choose their career path when they are just 15 years old, with only 1 in 10 (13%) waiting until they’re at least 18 to make a decision. The research suggests that children quickly identify their school subjects to prioritise. Maths (62%) was voted the most important for career development, ahead of English (57%) and Science (43%). Science (36%) also topped the polls for the most important subject to help future generations while music (41%) is most fun and history (34%) is most interesting.

To make sure Britain enjoys a cleaner future, the nation requires a major upgrade to its energy infrastructure. Smart meters, which replace traditional, analogue meters, are the foundation of this more reliable, clean and affordable smart energy system. They will allow Great Britain to better manage energy use, transition to mass uptake of electric vehicles and to build a greener economy.