The UK’s economy is at risk due to the shortage in STEM skills – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – where there is a gap in professionals to take over existing vacant positions.
According to a May, 2018 report, the shortfall in STEM graduates is costing the UK economy £1.5bn per year. 400 HR directors and decision makers participated in a survey that highlights several key points regarding the evolution of STEM professionals in the UK:
- Shortage of STEM skilled staff – 9 in 10 employers are having a difficult time recruiting skilled staff in the STEM industries leading to an average of 10 unfulfilled roles per business and a shortfall of more than 173.000 workers.
- Longer recruitment process – involves more resources and increased costs that are challenging for the recruitment industry. As a quick solution for the situation, 48% of STEM businesses are searching abroad for the right professionals.
- Education and experience mismatch – in STEM industries there is a large gap between the skill set valued in education and the one employers are searching for. In addition, not many schools are including STEM skills as part of their curriculum and therefore young professionals are not acquainted to the industries at all.
The core of the growing STEM skills gap stems somewhat from the education system level, from school to university. To compliment this, there is also a lack of professional training in the workplace.
It could be said that some STEM teachers are lagging in qualifications when compared to others teaching these subjects. This lack of qualifications tends to be higher in less affluent areas and schools:
- In areas outside of London, just over a third (37%) of maths teachers and just under half (45%) of chemistry teachers in less advantaged schools had a relevant degree. In more affluent schools outside of London, the proportions are far higher for maths (51%) and chemistry (68%).
- Shortages of highly-qualified teachers in these less advantaged schools appear to be the most severe in physics. In the worst-off schools outside of London, fewer than 1 in 5 of physics teachers (17%) have a relevant degree. In more affluent schools outside of London, the figure rises significantly to just over half (52%).
Danish company Shape Robotics’ vision aims for the continuous development of easy to use teaching robots designed to help everyone from younger school pupils to university students acquire 21st century skills and gain knowledge in STEM industries.
The company’s mission remains today: to make the teaching robot Fable as widely available as possible to students globally and to actively be involved in their development by collaborating with schools and teachers all over the world.
The Fable System offers learning at all levels from comprehension of technology in primary and secondary school, over mathematics and informatics in high school to vocational training programmes in industry and construction.
142,000 new tech jobs in UK by 2023
Research conducted by The British Computer Society reinforced the idea that the shortage of applicants in STEM industries is tightly related to the low number of students graduating with the skill sets necessary to fill these roles.
- A-Level results released in 2018 show 15,149 students passed an A-Level in either Computer Science or ICT – down very slightly from 15,161 in 2017 despite there being more vacant positions requiring these qualifications.
- The number of students passing Computer Science increased from 7,851 in 2017 to 9,772 in 2018 – a rise of 24% – while the number passing ICT fell for a fourth consecutive year, from 7,310 in 2017 to 5,378 in 2018 – a 20% decline.
Jobs needing STEM skills are projected to grow exponentially in the next few years. The UK expects to create an additional 142,000 new tech jobs by 2023; given the current gap in skill sets, hiring for these positions will become extremely tough and competitive.
By Diana Aldea