Poor careers advice failing to address STEM skills ‘crisis’
Britain is facing a skills "crisis" as not enough is being done to encourage young people into STEM related careers, despite there being enthusiasm for the subjects, according to new research.
The study, carried out by Nestlé UK & Ireland, suggests that nearly four out of five 14 to 16-year-olds would consider a career in a science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related industry, but more than half of those surveyed admitted that they knew very little about the type of jobs on offer.
Many science and maths teachers also admitted that they felt in the dark about careers within the industry, with 52 per cent of those surveyed saying that they do not know what STEM-related businesses are looking for in new employees.
The survey revealed that 62 per cent of UK businesses feel that Britain is facing a worrying skills gap in the industry with the current number of recruits failing to meet future demand.
Furthermore, 67 per cent of STEM employers said there had been little improvement in the situation over the past five years, while 34 per cent said they felt the situation had in fact worsened.
The research comes amid concerns that little is being done to improve careers guidance in schools – with many young people relying on parents and friends to deliver advice.
Speaking in the Commons, David Blunkett, former education secretary, said that schools shouldn’t achieve a good or outstanding rating by Ofsted unless careers advice was up to scratch.
The Labour politician claimed that if schools do not provide an appropriate careers service, then Ofsted should be restricted from awarding a school anything higher than ‘requires improvement’.
Research published earlier in the year suggested that many pupils feel that current careers provision within the school environment is irrelevant and often doesn’t keep pace with demand.
The study, conducted by the Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT), found that 84 per cent of 14-19 year olds would like more advice from their school or college regarding future options.
Speaking yesterday, Nicky Morgan, the Education Secretary said that while the National Careers Service had been recently extended, there was “more to do in terms of building partnerships between employers and schools."
Commenting on today’s findings, Greg Clark, the universities minister said: "This research shows that there is clear need to do more to inspire young people to study STEM subjects and enable them to have the opportunity to access science and engineering careers.”
Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland said: "It is a promising sign that so many young people in the UK are considering pursuing STEM subjects in higher education and as a career.
"However, there is evidently a breakdown that needs to be addressed, as while young people are interested in STEM subjects at schools, the uptake of careers in these areas is low – with many saying they don't know enough about the careers that are available.
"It is essential that businesses play their part and I am delighted to see that more and more companies are engaging with schools and colleges to help highlight the vast and diverse number of rewarding careers on offer."
28th October 2014