UK falling behind on Stem subjects, Conservative Party report says


UK falling behind on Stem subjects, Conservative Party report says

Warwick Ashford

The UK is falling behind its competitors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem), according to a report by a Conservative Party taskforce.

The taskforce, set up by Tory leader David Cameron, has proposed a series of measures to tackle the problems of ineffective funding of science and innovation, the lack of research that will lead to commercial products and services, and the need to train, retain and attract skills within UK education and industry.

The report makes several key recommendations, including the smarter use of the government's £150bn procurement budget to better support innovation and the creation of a new single government department for science and innovation to raise the status of science and engineering.

The taskforce found that despite the fact that the UK was often a leading global player in information technology and that trade in UK IT services had grown at twice the rate of all trade since 1997, there was still cause for concern.

The number of students registering for IT courses had fallen by 46% between 2001 and 2005, the report said. It also highlighted that an international study of UK ICT in 2006 had found an "alarming" lack of interest and enthusiasm in ICT for students at all levels in education. The report said the IT sector was also affected by the shortage of graduates in maths and physics.

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