The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has urged action on the UK’s science skills base, following Lord Sainsbury’s review of science and innovation.
The review found that scientific and technological innovation was crucial for the UK’s economy, and the government has set aside £1bn in funding to improve it.
“The challenge is not to hide behind trade barriers or engage in a ‘race to the bottom’ but to invest in the future in areas such as knowledge generation, innovation, education, re-training, and technological infrastructure,” Sainsbury said.
The review outlined the launch of a new campaign to enhance the teaching of science and technology.
John Cridland, deputy director-general at the CBI, said: “Tackling the decline in the number of young people studying science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) subjects must be at the top of the government’s agenda, at a time when business demand for these skills is growing fast.
“We urgently need more specialist science teachers, better careers advice and more young people studying three separate sciences at GCSE. The CBI is also calling for a £1,000 annual bursary for Stem undergraduates to reflect the importance of these skills to the UK economy,” he added.
A boost for science funding is also expected to be announced tomorrow, when the Chancellor Alistair Darling presents the pre-budget report and Comprehensive Spending Review.