Your Life: Government aims to halt STEM decline

Apprenticeship scheme gains industry support, but long-term questions remain about science and technology teaching

Unfortunately for ministers, there are no quick fixes, as the problem really seems to start as far back as primary school level.

The need, though, is there. The government says 20 per cent of the workforce is employed in science-based roles, and the numbers are rising. Science and engineering graduates also earn well 19 per cent more than the average again, perhaps, evidence of a skills shortage.

In the near term, though, it is the move to boost apprenticeships and entry-level jobs in science and technology that will help firms looking for skilled recruits. Youth unemployment remains stubbornly high, despite some evidence of economic recovery. The Your Life initiative will create 2,000 new jobs, in firms including Cisco, CapGemini, IBM and BT, as well as in firms in engineering and biotech.

That may be a modest number. But the best way to increase participation in STEM subjects might well be to turn those 2,000 into advocates and ambassadors for science and technology who will go back to schools and persuade the next generation that technology is a worthwhile career option.

Stephen Pritchard is a contributing editor at IT Pro.

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