CBI Calls For End To 'Skills Vacuum'

CBI Has Said The Government Must Do More In Improving The Number Of People In The UK With STEM Skills

12.03.2014

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said the government must do more to give workers the skills they need to enter science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers.

Executives from the institution believe that the STEM sector holds promise for the UK economy and could lead it to a new renaissance.

But recent studies have shown the government is struggling to get college and university leavers involved in training for the industry, despite the fact that pay for people who are STEM qualified is substantially higher than those without relevant degrees or accreditations.

Many business leaders have complained that poor teaching of science and maths at schools is putting younger people off pursuing careers in STEM areas.

The CBI is now calling for action to rectify the problem and wants the coalition to act in avoiding a "skill crush", reports the BBC.

In a report entitled Engineering our Future, the CBI states that key sectors for the UK's economic prosperity are being ignored and do not receive enough funding in terms of training, especially for women, who traditionally struggle to get into STEM jobs.

Katja Hall, the CBI's chief policy director, said: "We do have to play a long game on skills, creating more apprenticeships, but we also need policies for the short-term, including retraining existing workers with in-demand skills in key sectors.

"Highly-skilled workers are essential for our growth sectors and it will be those young people with science and maths who will go on to become the engineers and new tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow."

The Department of Business, Innovation and Skills said it is committed to ensuring STEM subjects receive proper backing and confirmed it is aware of the sector's importance in the UK economy.

But the coalition denied it is not doing enough to support the STEM industry, arguing that its recent £200 million investment in STEM facilities at universities, as well as its £185 million package for STEM teachers, was evidence of its backing.

Expert Opinion
For ambitious small businesses, the coming months are likely to offer a range of opportunities. However, the objectives of many of them will be reliant on being able to recruit workers with the right skills to suit their needs, as well as others who may have the talent and know-how to help them to develop new offerings.

"It is vital that the Government and businesses work together to ensure that young people have access to the right types of education, with the ultimate aim of developing talent which is likely to prove attractive to potential employers. This is particularly important in the STEM sectors where the right skills can give businesses a vital step forward in the development of new and innovative concepts.

"We would urge small businesses to ensure they speak to legal advisors on the issue of growing the workforce and the potential issues they will need to consider from a employment law perspective."
Fergal Dowling, Partner