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Real business behind Budget cuts

Last week's Budget signalled a major shift in emphasis from public to private sector. With jobs disappearing in the public sector, the Coalition wants to create wealth-generating jobs in industry and business.

It is clear that the UK needs people equipped with the skills to work in hi-tech industries, manufacturing and the knowledge economy. This means we need more people with Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills.

Here, the Coalition's plan may be threatened because these sectors, on which economic recovery depends report, a chronic national Stem skills shortage.

The Confederation of British Industry says 60 per cent of private sector employers expect shortages of Stem-skilled staff in the next three years, rising to 100 per cent for hi-tech industries and 90 per cent for manufacturing. The only way to fill this gap is to ensure future generations are taught Stem subjects well and encouraged to pursue them beyond GCSE to become Stem graduates, technicians and apprentices.

Education cannot be spared its share of cuts, but at such a critical time investment in Stem in schools is more crucial than ever.

Professor Sir John Holman, Director, National Science Learning Centre.

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