Businesses in the UK will face a shortage of qualified employees within the next few years unless government funding is found for the development of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem).
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The report warned that knowledge intensive organisations required more graduates and post-graduates with Stem skills who were also able to innovate, be enterprising and had networking and communication skills.
The review found that while the numbers of Stem graduates has increased since 2002, the number of those taking Stem A-levels - and therefore the next generation of graduates - has declined. There were considerable falls in those taking mathematics (a 15% drop), physics (14%) and computer sciences (47%).
The review found that an absence of adequate funding was resulting in a deficit of qualified teachers, lack of up-to-date laboratories, poor careers guidance and, increasingly, university department closures.
Additionally, issues around the current Stem curriculum were identified, such as students being forced to focus their subject choices too early, thereby limiting their options for future studies.
The review suggests that the government should consider incentives to encourage teachers to take up CPD (continued professional development) opportunities, including bursaries to cover fees and supply costs, to help keep their skills up to date and to help inspire their students.
The study review also recommends the government takes the issue of laboratory funding more seriously if students are to have access to the equipment required to train them to technician level or progress to higher education.
Richard Brown, CEO of CIHE, said, "The problem is that some students see the IT and science curriculum as dull. We need to inspire them with the roles they can take on after school and university and demonstrate what they will be able to achieve with a background in these important subjects.”
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