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Science and engineering skills shortage goes critical


Britain must encourage more young people to study science and engineering or face a future skills shortfall, according to The Roberts Report, commissioned by the Treasury, Department of Education and Skills, and the Department of Trade and Industry. It finds emerging shortages in the supply of high-level mathematics, physics, chemistry and engineering skills – due to increasing demand by employers for these skills and due to fewer students choosing to take these subjects at A level, and also later at university.

Sir Gareth Roberts, President of the Science Council, also identifies particular issues in schools, further and higher education, and in the attractiveness of jobs in research and development that are contributing to these shortages: "The UK has a strong scientific tradition. In the past it has not always translated this into economic benefit. To do this effectively we need highly skilled scientists and engineers capable of matching the best in the world. My recommendations are designed to ensure that we achieve this. They constitute a serious challenge to all with an interest in science, engineering and innovation, especially the Government, employers and those in the education system."

Paul Boateng, Financial Secretary to the Treasury, said: "The Government has done much to foster innovation and science in the UK, including increased investment in university research and tax breaks for businesses carrying out research and development. Sir Gareth’s report is important in identifying further ways of boosting the contribution science can make to improving productivity and growth. The Government will consider Sir Gareth’s recommendations in the context of the forthcoming Spending Review."


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