STEM skills shortage costing £1.5 billion

STEM skills shortage costing £1.5 billion


According to a recent report from STEM Learning, the skills shortage is costing businesses in the sector £1.5 billion a year.

The largest provider of STEM education and careers support in the UK, STEM Learning has found that no less than 89% of STEM businesses struggle to recruit qualified workers and there is a current shortfall of 173,000 skilled workers, equating to 10 unfilled roles on average per business.

The £1.5 billion figure represents costs associated with temporary staffing, recruitment, inflated salaries and additional training.

The body also warns that with new STEM opportunities expected to double over the next 10 years, on-going skills shortages will have bigger economic impact at a critical time: commentators note that we are entering the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, are undergoing significant technological, economic and societal change, are facing an uncertain Brexit outcome and severe funding challenges in education.

Almost 90% of employers are reporting a lengthier recruitment process, expensive temporary staffing costs, hiring at lower levels, inflating salaries and providing more training in-house. Around half are looking abroad for the right skills, 70% are hiring candidates with no STEM background and 60% are leaving vacancies unfilled.

More than half are not confident about the future and expect the shortage to worsen over the next decade with the combination of lack of skills and number of new roles set to double. The lead concern is that the UK will fall behind in terms of technological advancement, lose R&D credentials and foreign investment.

STEM Learning sees growing the STEM workforce as the most effective solution.

Calling for businesses to help build the future pipeline of STEM skills, STEM Learning also highlights the key barriers to a career in STEM for young people, namely low awareness of the opportunities available and a lack of meaningful opportunities for work experience.

Just one in five STEM businesses facing recruitment difficulties admit that employers could do more in a rapidly changing technological environment where the Government is gearing up to invest more than £400 million in mathematics, digital and technical education.

Yvonne Baker, Chief Executive, STEM Learning said “We are heading towards a perfect storm for STEM businesses in the UK - a very real skills crisis at a time of uncertainty for the economy and as schools are facing unprecedented challenges.

“The shortage is a problem for employers, society and the economy, and in this age of technological advancement the UK has to keep apace. We need to be in a better position to home grow our talent but it cannot be left to government or schools alone – businesses have a crucial role to play too.

“STEM Learning bridges the gap between businesses and schools. By working with us to invest in teachers in local schools and colleges, employers can help deliver a world-leading STEM education, inspiring young people and building the pipeline of talent in their area, making it a win-win for everyone.”

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

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