New report shows UK STEM skills gap


Nearly six in ten employers of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates think there is a skills gap in the UK, according to a new YouGov study.

The “STEM Skills Gap Report” found that 59% of businesses and 79% of universities surveyed believe there aren’t enough skilled candidates leaving education to meet industry’s employment requirements.

The survey also demonstrates a need for greater collaboration between academics and businesses.
More than half of both groups say that working together closely is needed - vital as the study also reveals that universities’ approach to teaching STEM subjects does not always marry with the needs of employers.

Dr. Coorous Mohtadi, MathWorks said: “This report tells us two important things. First, that more needs to be done to encourage students to study STEM subjects in tertiary education.  Second, that STEM curricula need to better reflect the requirements of industry, bearing in mind that during their careers students will need to solve problems that are not yet known, using technologies that haven’t been invented yet.

"The different approaches to addressing the STEM skills gap are interesting and highlight the need for greater collaboration between industry and academia; understanding what is required of graduates in the workplace, and how teaching approaches can better meet the needs of industry, in order to equip students with the right skills to enter the workforce and for their ongoing careers.”

Key findings:

  • More than six in ten (61%) business leaders and 68% of academics who think there is a skills gap believe it will take over ten years to close
  •  More than eight in ten (83%) businesses and almost nine in ten (89%) academics think the skills gap needs to be bridged in order for the UK to be competitive in the world economy
  • More than half of both groups (51% of industry and 53% of academics) believe investment in the teaching of STEM in Further Education and Higher Education is not as high as in other countries.
  • Universities and businesses are united in a belief that the skills gap can be mitigated with greater collaboration between academia and industry. Over half (52%) of employers and almost two-thirds (64%) of academics included in our survey think that industry does not currently work closely enough with universities
  • While more than six in ten (63%) businesses think industry should have a greater say and make a greater investment in the STEM curriculum in the UK, universities are less enthusiastic, with just 46% welcoming this extent of industry involvement
  • Of academics who want industry to have more say in the STEM curriculum, all respondents want industry to provide workplace experience to students in STEM subjects. 82% would welcome guest experts from industry to give talks at schools and universities.
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