The UK government has been urged to act on Stem training and visas to address the country’s ongoing shortage of Stem skills. A new report by the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE) has found that the UK economy is losing out on £1.5 billion per year due to the shortage of Stem skills. The report also found that the R&D sector will need at least 150,000 researchers and technicians by 2030.
The report makes several recommendations to the government, including:
- A better understanding of skills gaps and needs and aligning education provision accordingly.
- A range of incentives to support smaller employers provides workplace training, including streamlining the regulatory framework for apprenticeships and more funding for further Stem training.
- Support for the new R&D clusters and help regional diffusion of innovation.
- We are reducing the upfront cost of UK visas in line with international competitors and introducing more flexible tickets to support researcher mobility on various timescales.
- Support for applicants and smaller businesses to navigate the visa system.
The report’s author, Sarah Main, said that “the government must coordinate and support an integrated skills system, from technical education and apprenticeships to upskilling and reskilling in the workplace, to unlock skills for a more innovative UK.” She added that “ensuring that the UK has the right skills across all four nations is vital to our economic recovery and future prosperity.”
The government has said that it is committed to addressing the shortage of Stem skills and has announced several initiatives in recent months. However, the CaSE report argues that more needs to be done and that the government needs to take a more strategic approach to the issue.
The report’s recommendations are timely, as the UK government is reviewing its immigration policy. According to the government, the goal is to attract top talent from all over the world. A case report recommends that the UK simplify the process for Stem workers to come to the country.
The report’s findings are also relevant to the broader debate about the UK’s future economic competitiveness. The UK government has said it wants to be a “science superpower,” the case report suggests that the UK needs to invest in Stem training and visas to achieve this goal.
The government has until the end of the year to respond to the case report. It will be interesting to see how the government responds to the report’s recommendations and whether it takes the necessary steps to address the shortage of Stem skills in the UK.
Here are some additional thoughts on the issue:
- The stem skills shortage is a global problem but particularly acute in the UK.
- The UK government has several levers that it can pull to address the shortage of Stem skills, including investment in education and training, changes to immigration policy, and support for innovation.
- To address the shortage of Stem skills, the government should collaborate with businesses and other stakeholders to develop a strategic plan.
- The UK government has a chance to make a real difference in the lives of people in the UK by addressing the shortage of Stem skills. By investing in Stem training and visas, the government can help to create jobs, boost the economy, and improve the UK’s global competitiveness.
‘Ensuring that the UK has the right skills across all four nations is vital to our long-term prosperity,’ said a spokesperson for the Royal Society. ‘This will require changes to our education system. Studying a broader range of subjects to 18 and significantly expanding technical routes into research and innovation careers would help ensure more young people have the foundations they need to achieve this. We need a coherent talent offer that joins up education, skills, science and immigration policy if we are to deliver benefits for all corners of the country.’ The society strongly supports CaSE’s call to shake up the visa system.
The report highlights many of the longstanding weaknesses of the UK skills system, including a lack of understanding of current and emerging skills gaps and the need to incentivize skills investment amongst SMEs better, says Lizzie Crowley, senior skills policy adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development. ‘Smaller firms typically face greater barriers to training investment than larger firms and require additional support. In our view, this should include enhanced business and people management support for small firms to build employer capability and an appetite to invest in skills and improve how people are managed and developed in the workplace.’