Tech & Work

Skills shortage: Britain's not techie enough, say employers

Businesses worry there aren't enough Stem and IT skills to go around…

As the recovery swings slowly into motion, employers are concerned that the UK workforce won't be able to provide the tech skills that industry needs.

A CBI report published yesterday, which surveyed more than 600 employers, uncovered doubts about the number of candidates with the appropriate Stem (science, technology, engineering, maths) and IT skills that will be available to businesses over the coming years.

Employees with Stem qualifications are in demand, with 72 per cent of businesses saying they rely on Stem-skilled staff, according to the survey sponsored by Education Development International.

However, 45 per cent of employers said they are already experiencing difficulties in recruiting workers with the right Stem skills. Businesses also believe the problem will worsen: 59 per cent of employers anticipate problems recruiting the necessary Stem-skilled workers over the next three years.

According to the survey, employers want the government to do more to encourage the study of Stem subjects in school and university. Further action they hope to see includes promoting the value of science and maths in schools (favoured by 69 per cent of respondents), and ensuring that future funding for Stem subjects in higher education is protected (52 per cent).

lack of stem skills in UK is a worry to businesses

The UK is in danger of falling into a Stem skills shortage
(Photo credit: Shutterstock)

"Business is clear - Stem must be a priority for the new government to address skills shortages and ensure young people are well placed to make the most of new employment opportunities in the future," the report said.

The report also reveals employer worries over IT skills in the workplace, with 66 per cent of businesses saying they are concerned about their current staff's IT ability. The survey said 43 per cent of businesses have had to provide remedial IT training to their existing workforce, while 22 per cent have had to offer it to workers recruited from school or college.

Richard Lambert, director-general of CBI, said in a statement: "Businesses want tomorrow's workforce to be at the top of the new government's policy agenda. As we move further into recovery and businesses plan for growth, the demand for people with high-quality skills and qualifications will intensify."

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