Government Reviews Need for Employers and Universities to Address STEM Skills Gap

The government has issued findings of two reports aimed at developing employment prospects of graduates in STEM subjects, which call for a large focus on employment outcomes and improved links with industry.

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt and Professor Sir William Wakeham, highlight a vast variation in the employment prospects of graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths subjects.

The review by Shadbolt was commissioned to investigate as to why computer science graduates have in recent times experienced lower employment rates compared to graduates from other sectors, despite the growth across the digital sector. The Wakeham review looked at whether some STEM subjects also suffer from poorer graduate outcomes.

The reviews both found that:

  • Students would benefit from universities and employers working together to expand and improve the array of work experience opportunities available – embedding the learning from work experience more consistently in degree programmes
  • Professional bodies need to strengthen their accreditation systems so they support universities to deliver high-level STEM skills that are most relevant to industry

The proposed Teaching Excellence Framework by the government will introduce rewards for universities depending on their success in supporting all students into employment or further study. These rewards may be reputational or financial. Improved data on graduate job prospects will also help applicants understand how course choices lead to different employment outcomes.

Jo Johnson, universities and science minister, 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.”


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