CBI calls for urgent action on science skills base

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CBI calls for urgent action on science skills base

Rebecca Thomson

The Confederation of British industry (CBI) has called for urgent action on the UK's science skills base after the publication of Lord's Sainsbury's review of science and innovation.

Lord Sainsbury said in the review that scientific and technological innovation is crucial for the UK's economy, and devoted £1bn funding to improving it.

"The challenge is not to hide behind trade barriers or engage in a 'race to the bottom' but to invest in the future in areas such as knowledge generation, innovation, education, re-training, and technological infrastructure," he said.

One of his recommendations was a leadership role for the new Technology Strategy Board (TSB), which is charged with co-ordinating public sector support for technological innovation and simplifying access to funds for business.

The review also announced a major campaign to enhance the teaching of science and technology.

John Cridland, CBI's deputy director-general, said, "We are particularly pleased to see the enhanced role the CBI proposed for the new Technology Strategy Board adopted. The TSB could be a real catalyst for the development of new technology in the UK."

But he said the importance of technology and its current skills deficit meant even more resources were needed to boost the situation.

"The increase to £1bn funding over three years is a start, but only half of what we believe is needed to make a really radical difference.

"Tackling the decline in the number of young people studying science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects must be at the top of the government's agenda, at a time when business demand for these skills is growing fast.

"We urgently need more specialist science teachers, better careers advice and more young people studying three separate sciences at GCSE. The CBI is also calling for a £1,000 annual bursary for Stem undergraduates to reflect the importance of these skills to the UK economy."





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