CBI science initiative aims to boost school and university numbers

The UK’s leading employer group has called on the government to do more to make teenagers pursue careers in science, and says employers also share the responsibility.

Richard Lambert, the CBI’s director-general, described a five-point plan that he believes will help stem a growing shortage of graduates in science and technology, which is expected to get worse in the coming decade.

The plan includes automatically ‘opting-in’ brighter students to the most taxing science courses; improving laboratories, equipment and careers advice in schools; and offering financial incentives to university science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) graduates.

“We need to create an environment in schools that reflects the importance of science and the value of studying it,” Lambert said.

“Young people are doing better than ever in science tests at 14, but hardly any are going on to study triple science GCSE, despite the opportunities and learning it offers.”

The government has allocated £45bn to improve school buildings over the next 25 years, but the initial target of 100 qualified schools by 2009 is unlikely to be met, with only 13 opened so far.

Speaking to Personnel Today, Lambert said companies need to take further steps to encourage young people into careers.

“Employers take the view that their job is to train employees for the tasks they need to do in their job, and they rightfully expect the state to produce people with the relevant skills through education,” said Lambert. “But employers have the responsibility to engage young people and show them a variety of career possibilities.”

He cited a programme run by petrochemical giant Shell that works with children, parents and teachers in primary schools to do scientific activities together.

Lambert said HR departments should be thinking long-term, despite the economic slowdown and the consequent budgetary constraints.

“It’s quite important that businesses be thinking future-first, so we come out of this cycle in a few years time stronger than we went into it, be more effective, have a more motivated workforce, and that’s a high responsibility for HR teams,” Lambert said.

Read the full CBI proposal 

Comments are closed.