CBI calls for twice as many science and engineering students to beat future skills shortage

The UK will have a shortage of scientists and engineers unless it doubles the proportion of graduates doing these subjects by 2014, business leaders warned today.

Employers’ group the CBI said the predicted growth of jobs in these subjects was on course to outstrip the supply of qualified employees.

It warned that jobs would go overseas unless the share of people leaving university with degrees in science, engineering and technology degrees rose from 12% to 25%.

On the first day of National Science Week, John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, said: “Britain has a world-class science base, and many world-beating companies, but we must build on these strengths, not allow them to wither on the vine.

“Our future success will depend on our ability to compete not only with our traditional international rivals but new ones too, particularly India and China.”

The CBI has identified four weaknesses that are holding back the flow of students into university science courses:

  • Poor science laboratories in schools
  • A lack of teachers with specialist knowledge to teach GCSE and A-level
  • A stripped-down curriculum which does not devote sufficient time to science
  • Poor careers advice.

About 45,000 graduates emerge from UK universities with a degree in science, engineering or technology each year.

The CBI has calculated that this needs to jump to 97,000 a year just to fill new positions.

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