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Poor awareness of career options threatens to worsen skills shortages

POSTED: 10th November 2014
IN: Business news
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New research suggests a poor understanding of potential career paths may be preventing students from pursuing the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) qualifications businesses seek.

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According to a report released by Nestlé UK and Ireland, 62 per cent of British businesses in industries related to STEM subjects believe the nation faces a shortage of skilled recruits. Not only is this likely to undermine the sector’s ability to meet increased demand as the economy grows, but statistics imply the situation may deteriorate further.

62 per cent of firms surveyed believe no improvement has been made on addressing skills gaps in the past five years, and over one in three think conditions have worsened. What’s more, evidence from the perspective of the education sector outlines significant barriers that must be overcome to reverse this trend.

While on a positive note 78 per cent of 14-to-16 year olds report they would be open to considering a STEM-related career, 51 per cent have little knowledge of the career paths these subjects might lead to.

“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,” comments Nestlé UK and Ireland CEO Fiona Kendrick.

The challenge is exacerbated by the finding that 52 per cent of STEM subject teachers don’t fully understand the mix of skills businesses within the sector seek from new recruits. This statistic in particular underlines the need to better-align the education and professional sectors to ensure British manufacturers and other STEM-related businesses have access to the talent they need to grow.

Recognising this need, in May the government announced a new Your Life campaign to outline the value of STEM subjects to the next generation of young people.

“By bringing together the collective force of industry, academia and the government, the Your Life Campaign will help to provide this inspiration and these opportunities to equip young people with the skills they need to succeed,” reports Minister of State for Universities, Science and Cities, Greg Clark.

As this year’s EEF Future Manufacturing Awards headline sponsor, Aldermore is a strong supporter of the UK’s innovative manufacturing sector, and realises that bridging skills gaps may prove vital to its continued success. The Bank welcomes efforts to overcome this issue by bringing industry and education closer together.

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