More than a fifth of world’s billionaires studied engineering at university

Approved Index analysis finds 22% of Forbes’ 100 rich list studied engineering at university

More than a fifth (22%) of the world’s richest people studied engineering at university, a report has found, as the IT industry promotes the importance of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects.

Business-to-business buying platform Approved Index produced the data after it analysed the education backgrounds of billionaires from Forbes’ list of 100 richest people in the world.

There were almost twice as many billionaires on the list who had taken an engineering degree, compared with the next most popular choice, which was business (12%). Third on the list was arts subjects (9%). Only 4% studied maths and science at university.

Engineering graduates on the list were also found to be richer than other billionaires featured, with an average wealth of $25.8bn compared with $24bn for billionaires without a degree at all. Those who had studied finance at university had an average net worth of $22.5bn.

Alison Vincent, CTO of Cisco UK&I, welcomed the figures, but said the technology sector still needs to do more.

“This latest data, which recognises the high wages and abundant opportunities that accompany a job in engineering, will undoubtedly help in the industry’s ongoing quest to inspire young people to opt for careers in technology and science, but we need to do more,” she said.  

Read more about STEM education

Vincent said businesses, the government and education institutions all have a role to play and should develop links with industry bodies such as the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the local Universities Technical Colleges (UTCs).

“At Cisco, we work in partnership with StemNet to help demonstrate the amazing opportunities that Stem skills unlock. Similarly, with the Cisco Little BIG Awards, we’re inspiring 11-14 years olds to understand the fantastic and fun opportunities the internet of everything can offer, and we recently pulled together 20 schools in Hampshire and Surrey to do just this,” she said.

“In the next five years, the IT industry will provide 500,000 jobs offering students an opportunity to change the way we live, and re-imagine our future through technology. It is an incredibly exciting prospect and as an industry it is our responsibility to inspire the next generation. The emergence of the internet of everything means we’re now connecting animals, athletes and clothes rails to the internet, so whether young people’s passion is conservation, sport or fashion, there is a technology job out there for them.”

However, the data also highlighted that a third of the top 100 wealthiest do not have degrees, despite their net worth still being lower than those who studied engineering at university.

Bill Gates has an estimated fortune of $79bn, which he amassed after dropping out of Harvard. The youngest person on the list is Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who also dropped out of university to make a net worth to the tune of $33.4bn.

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