Life Sciences

Science skills gap ‘a result of confusion’

A significant amount of confusion exists among science graduates in the UK in relation to the careers that are open to them.

A panel of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) leaders and academics have spoken at the Business in the Community Responsible Business Week event in London about the issue and how it is contributing to the country's skills shortage in this area.

The panel, chaired by HR magazine deputy editor Katie Jacobs, debated issues such as the lack of skilled employees that are currently available to firms that require people who are qualified in STEM industries.

What's more, the experts discussed how diversity in these subjects is also of extreme importance and must be prioritised.

Louise Archer, professor at the department of education and professional studies at King's College London, told HR magazine most people who qualify in science believe the only careers that are subsequently open to them are scientists and doctors.

However, this is simply not the case, as there are plenty of other options too – such as engineering. The problem is that many people are not aware of this.

One issue that cropped up during the panel's time together was the age at which people should be encouraged to get involved in science and take it up as a potential career path. Simon Lenton, HR director at Jaguar Land Rover, said his firm's policy is to get children aged between ten and 14 involved and focused on such activities.

He also suggested that it is important science-based organisations are able to appeal to female students.

Ms Archer added one problem STEM industries must overcome is that science is "seen as very elitist", whereas working in business is thought to be much more realistic, mainly because of what she described as the "Alan Sugar effect".