Calls for new thinking on education to close the UK STEM skills gap

Author : MATLAB

03 November 2016

A shortage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills is a major concern for the UK, and was addressed at last week’s MATLAB Expo, one of the biggest annual gatherings of STEM professionals and academics in the UK.

(Click here to view article in digital issue)

Speaking at MATLAB Expo, Dr. Kenny Webster, Head of Learning Operations at the Science Museum argued that getting more young people into STEM subjects is critical for UK businesses which need to recruit the talent they need to grow and compete. However, despite living in a scientific age, too great a proportion of young people are distanced from science. 

Dr. Webster added that much more is needed to be done to encourage a wider understanding and love for science among young people. Partners at Kings College have defined a measure of this affinity as an individual’s science capital. They estimate that 27% of 11-17 year olds and especially those from disadvantaged areas have a fundamentally low science capital, don’t believe science is for them and therefore are less likely to choose a STEM career path.

The Science Museum has an important job to do to inspire the STEM professionals of the future and start that interest and love of science and technology from the earliest years. We need to help more people feel that science is for them and that’s a huge challenge needing creative partnerships between institutions like ours and the STEM industry.

Chris Hayhurst, consulting manager at MathWorks UK, said, “Engineering currently generates 27% of the total UK GDP but science, technology, engineering and maths skills are in desperately short supply. We need many more engineers, approximately double the number of graduates and apprentices, if the UK is to remain competitive in the global economy. With the new government taking a fresh look at industrial strategy, we need to redouble efforts to get current and future generations enthused and engaged with mathematics in their lives. Government can play a role but it is vital that we and the rest of STEM industry join forces with universities and institutions like the Science Museum to bring more new talent into our sector. A key focus should be how the STEM curriculum could be enriched with more long term project-based learning that tackles real world business problems and demonstrates that STEM is at the heart of creativity and innovation.”

MathWorks is a Major Sponsor of the Science Museum’s spectacular new mathematics gallery, opening in December 2016. Mathematics: the Winton Gallery will explore how mathematicians, their tools and ideas have helped to shape the modern world over the last four hundred years. The gallery will place mathematics at the heart of all our lives, bringing the subject to life through remarkable stories, artefacts and design.

MATLAB Expo is attended by up to 1000 delegates from the UK STEM community including major STEM employers as diverse as Shell, the Royal Navy, BAE Systems, McLaren Applied Technologies and Jaguar Land Rover. This year the expo was held at Silverstone, Northamptonshire on 5th October 2016. 

Contact Details and Archive...

Print this page | E-mail this page