Reviewing the requirement for high level STEM skills
In order to reshape its economy around high value, knowledge-intensive activities within an increasingly competitive global economy, the UK must meet the growing demand for people equipped with higher level, economically valuable skills. In particular, ensuring that businesses have access to science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills is critically important since these skills play a central role in developing innovative products and services that can be effectively positioned in world markets. As part of its response to the higher-level skills challenge, the Government is committed to a programme of higher apprenticeships that combine on the job training with study for a higher-level qualification at level 4 or above. They are seen to be a mechanism by which employers can more effectively access the specific skills that they need, by growing their own talent and developing a loyal and motivated workforce. At the same time, employers are working together through Industrial Partnerships and other mechanisms to develop further skills solutions to address their high-level needs. In support of this the Government has asked the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to conduct a review of STEM skills to advise on the STEM occupations that face the greatest labour market need, in order to inform decisions around the future development of this kind of provision in the STEM sphere. As a provider of high-quality business and labour market intelligence designed to inform choice, policy and practice, the UK Commission is well placed to undertake this task. This report is primarily intended to inform the thinking of employers as they consider the strategic skills solutions needed by their respective sectors. It is also a resource for policy makers as they seek to support and enable employer-led strategies, particularly in areas of market failure. It is very much a top-down analysis, based on common and consistent sources of labour market data and is intended to provide a framework for more detailed research and analysis from the bottom-up by Industrial Partnerships and other bodies.