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FE science and technology courses need 'radical overhaul' to avert industry crisis

A leading professional body is calling for a “radical overhaul” of science and technology-based FE courses to avert a “wholesale crisis” in industry.

A survey conducted by NEF: The Innovation Institute found only 23 per cent of companies that rely on science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) skills were able to recruit people with the right experience and qualifications.

Some 85 per cent of technology-driven companies said the FE sector did not fully meet their requirements. Last week NEF held an event to discuss the skills crisis at the Royal Society in London, attended by more than 50 companies.

NEF said the discussions, part of its ongoing Inventing the Future project, identified a “desperate need” for workers that can combine advanced technical skills with innovative and entrepreneurial thinking.

The NEF’s Inventing the Future report, which will be published in full this summer, will assess the skills crisis and explore how industry, government and academia can nurture a generation of technically advanced workers, equipped to deal with rapidly changing technologies.

Baroness Verma of Leicester, who chaired the event, said: “In order for the UK to lead on innovation and to address 21st century challenges such as climate change, we need to find sustainable measures to encourage and build interest in Stem subjects for current and future generations.

“We need to reach out to people from wider and more diverse backgrounds, to ensure that the plethora of opportunities in the Stem space are properly presented and understood.”

Dr Brooke Hoskins, a director at defence and aerospace company Raytheon UK, said: “A coherent, nationwide Stem strategy is essential if we are to develop a steady supply of well rounded, technically advanced recruits with the right blend of technical and leadership skills.”

Last year a YouGov survey of businesses and academics found that nearly six in ten employers of Stem graduates think there is a skills gap in Britain.

The survey found that 59 per cent of businesses and 79 per cent of universities believe there are not enough skilled candidates leaving education to meet industry’s employment requirements.

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