Whilst acknowledging the contribution that STEM graduates can make to the overall scientific literacy of the workforce whilst working in non-STEM fields, the report committee was still raised concern that “the diversion of a significant number of STEM graduates away from STEM jobs means that the UK is not equipped with the skills it needs to meet future plans for growth within high-tech sectors.”
Furthermore, the report showed that STEM graduates from the UK are lacking the necessary skills to meet the requirements of industry. The report stated that the majority of students, who entered higher education to study a STEM course, fell short of the course’s mathematical requirement. The report also found “evidence that graduates were often found to lack the numeracy skills to succeed in the workplace- an issue confirmed by employer surveys conducted by the CBI which identified a shortage of students with adequate maths skills.”
The figures from the report showed that around 70% of biology undergraduates, 38% of chemistry and economics undergraduates and 10% of engineering students did not have A-level maths.
The report chairman, Lord Willis, told the BBC News Online that he was “gobsmacked” at the report’s findings, which found that even students with A-Level’s in Maths were not necessarily able to cope with a university science course.
Geoffrey Taylor, Head of the Academic Programme, SAS UK & Ireland, called for the government to help bridge the skills gap in STEM fields, saying: “Unlike Lord Willis, I was not 'gobsmacked' by the report findings. These confirm my own experience that we are facing a very real skills crisis here in the UK. Our graduates lack the maths skills needed by increasingly data-driven businesses.”
Taylor continued: “With the rise of social technologies and the proliferation of mobile devices, data is everywhere. It's crucial that UK graduates are equipped with the analytical skills to navigate this so-called 'big data' and studying maths past GSCE is a prerequisite. Government must also work with businesses to base syllabuses around the applications and software used in real-life scenarios. This will give students a head start when it comes to gaining employment in today's information age.”
Said Taylor: “If the government's Plan for Growth is to take advantage of the hi-tech industry to create jobs and prosperity, the skills gap must be tackled now."