The significance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) skills to the forthcoming prosperity of the U.K. is a hotly discussed topic. The U.K. produces 10% of the worlds advanced scientific research and the engineering industry alone accounts for over a fifth of all U.K. turnover from enterprises.
Despite this, employers within the sector are experiencing difficulty in recruiting appropriately STEM skilled workers, and SEMTA (engineering skills board) predict a shortfall of around 80,000 workers within the next 2 years.
It has been suggested that this deficiency is due to a lack of pupils studying the respective subjects at a higher level. A recent survey asked pupils why this is the case; and the response showed that students believed that these subjects were more difficult to achieve in and that only the most intelligent people would be able to get a STEM related job.
It is therefore up to the education industry to change perceptions about STEM subjects and encourage engagement from a young age. Sir Michael Tomlinson, former Chief Inspector at Ofsted, believes that employers should interact with primary schools and secondary schools to bring a new life to STEM subjects that propels a desire to pursuing careers in the field.
The 2013-2014 academic year saw the highest amount of pupils accepted on to STEM related university courses in a decade, with over 98,000 students embarking in this field of study. Perhaps the misconceptions about STEM career prospects are slowly changing, and the UK can continue to lead the way in Science and Technology.