Focus on STEM skills outcomes 'essential for UK growth'

E-mail us

Your login

Use the link below to access your online portal.


GRENKE partner portal

GRENKE customer portal

We're here for you.

Would you like to know more about our services? 

Call us on: +44 (0) 1483 4017 00

Focus on STEM skills outcomes 'essential for UK growth'

There is a growing recognition within the British business community that their success and prosperity in the years and decades to come will be heavily dependent on their access to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills.

These core attributes have always been important for prospective employees to possess, but as the world of business becomes ever more digitised and technology-oriented, it is undeniable that this crucial nature of such skills is likely to become more prevalent than ever before.

This week, two leading British academics have published recommendations aimed at helping  the government better understand and improve the job prospects of graduates in STEM disciplines, and ensure the UK workforce can meet the long-term needs of the economy.

Conducted by Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Sir William Wakeham, the reviews examined ways of helping universities and employers to develop a pipeline of highly-skilled graduates, with a stronger focus on employment outcomes and more real-life work experience underlined as key priorities.

The Shadbolt review aimed to investigate why computer sciences graduates have experienced lower employment rates compared to graduates from other disciplines in recent years - despite the growth across the digital sector - while the Wakeham review looked at why some STEM courses suffer from poorer graduate outcomes.

Both reviews included a series of detailed recommendations, but both reviews identified that students might benefit from universities and employers collaborating more closely to expand and improve the array of work experience opportunities available, with specific efforts made to embed the learning from work experience more consistently in degree programmes. Professional bodies, meanwhile, were called upon to strengthen their accreditation systems in order to better support universities to deliver high-level STEM skills that are most relevant to the needs of industry.

Universities and science minister Jo Johnson said: "I'm extremely grateful to both Sir William and Sir Nigel for their thorough reviews into graduate employment outcomes and I welcome their clear emphasis on the importance of building much closer links between universities and employers.

"The UK has a world-class higher education system but, as these reviews recognise, more must be done to address the variability in outcomes for some graduates and to ensure all students receive the highest quality teaching. That's why we are taking action to reform our higher education system, and the findings in these reviews provide valuable insights to ensure students and employers get the best returns on their investment."

Currently, it is estimated that the UK requires more than half a million additional workers in the digital sector by 2022, yet despite this the unemployment rate for computer sciences graduates six months after graduation stands at 11.7 per cent, above the 8.6 per cent average for STEM graduates.

A lack of work experience among graduates could be one of the key causes of this trend, thus underlining the the need to improve engagement between universities and employers, while addressing the source of disagreements among companies on whether graduates are better off learning computer science principles or skills that reflect current technologies.