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4th October 2012

100,000 science graduates needed to maintain economy

A report has found that an extra 10,000 annual science graduates are needed to maintain the UK economy

The UK needs an annual minimum of 100,000 graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) just to maintain the economic status quo, according to a report published by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

There are currently only 90,000 STEM graduates each year and around a quarter of these go on to non-scientific careers, meaning that there is a significant shortfall. The median age of a Chartered Engineer, who is master’s degree qualified and registered with the Engineering Council, was also found to increase by a decade every 14 years.

The report, Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy, found that even more annual graduates would be required in both engineering and non-engineering jobs to help the economy to grow.

Professor Colin Bailey, Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Manchester, welcomed the report and said that “well-educated engineers, in all disciplines, are key to the future UK economy.”

He continued: “The University is working with industrial partners to ensure that our engineering graduates have the required skills to face future challenges.  We are also engaging with school children of all ages to introduce them to the wonders of engineering, as a future career, to address the significant skill shortage facing this country.”

Across the economy demand for STEM graduates exceeds supply and Professor Matthew Harrison, Director of Education at the Royal Academy of Engineering warned that the shortage was getting worse.

“In the last 10 years the general wage premium for graduates has been dropping, but over the same period the graduate premium for engineering has been going up.

“Engineering firms are crying out for engineers. They can’t get the people they need. Although they have been very very vocal about the subject it has not translated into public policy yet.”

The report acknowledged that women, ethnic minorities, disabled people and disadvantaged people were under-represented in applications to STEM degrees and recommended government support focusing on the strategic value of such qualifications to improve this.

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