Tech skills: companies should get their hands dirty and help students
Posted by Bert Maes on September 29, 2009
Businesses must do more to help boost the numbers of students taking science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) degrees in order to ensure the UK does not lag behind its international competitors, a new report has warned.
Failure to increase the number of STEM grads will mean the UK can kiss goodbye to being a world leader in sectors such as environmental technology, pharmaceuticals, high value-added manufacturing and financial services, according to the report by business association the CBI.
“Effective collaboration between the higher education sector, business and government will be critical to the UK’s economic recovery and sustainable international competitiveness,” Sam Laidlaw, chairman of the CBI higher education task force, and CEO of Centrica, said in a statement.
The report notes that while UK undergraduate numbers have risen by 35 per cent since 1997, the proportion of students taking STEM degrees has declined by 20 per cent since 1999-2000.
While the CBI report also notes the recession has “undoubtedly” reduced the number of IT jobs available, it adds: “There is a strong demand from the business community for graduates and postgraduates with STEM skills, and this is expected to intensify in the future.”
Richard Lambert, CBI director-general, said in a statement: “Business should engage more with universities, both financially and intellectually. More firms should help design and pay for courses for the benefit of the current and future workforce, and more firms should offer students practical work experience.”