Shortage of science graduates will thwart manufacturing-based recovery

Too few women studying science, maths and engineering and a curb on immigration make government hopes forlornyoung scientists

The government’s hope that it can drive an economic recovery by growing the UK’s manufacturing industry will be thwarted by a lack of science and technology graduates, a report suggests.

The report – which concludes that there is an annual shortfall of 40,000 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) graduates – has been released amid calls for a national campaign to boost the number of women in science.

A spokesman for the Social Market Foundation (SMF) thinktank, said the number of home-grown graduates in STEM subjects needs to increase by half just to keep science-related industries at their current size.

If the government would like to grow these sectors to drive a recovery at the same time as reducing migration, the shortfall balloons even further.

Nida Broughton, a senior economist at the SMF, said: “The government has made clear its aim to rebalance the UK economy towards manufacturing and away from financial services. But it has also pledged to reduce immigration. Our analysis shows that the gulf between skills and jobs makes these aims incompatible in the short-term.”

The manufacturers’ association, the EEF, estimates that 90% of Britain’s engineers are male and 80% of workers in the manufacturing industry are male. That compares with other sectors, where men are an average of 51% of the workforce.

Adults ‘reliant on calculators’ in their daily lives

Despite agreeing that maths “is important to them in their daily lives”, one-in-five adults failed to correctly complete an 11 times table without a calculator.group of adults maths

Around one in six (15 per cent) adults say they find the subject difficult, and sometimes feel embarrassed by their lack of maths skill.

More than a third of adults (38 per cent) say their job requires them to do a small amount of maths each day, and half agree that some of life’s most important decisions require the subject.

Yet in a random multiplication test commissioned by BAE Systems, one-in-five adults failed to correctly complete an 11 times table without a calculator.

Some 2 per cent of adults questioned in a related poll said that they tend to use a calculator to add or subtract numbers higher than 10, while 13 per cent do so for numbers higher than 100.

And around one in six (15 per cent) say they find the subject difficult, and sometimes feel embarrassed by their lack of maths skill.

The results follow a report this week by the Institute for Fiscal Studies which found that a decent grasp of maths at the age of 10 could add more than seven per cent to a child’s eventual earning power.

It found that a pupil who scores highly in the subject can expect to receive around £2,100 extra each year by the time they reach 30.

Last year the Telegraph’s Make Britian Count campaign highlighted this country’s poor performance in maths, pointing out for example that 17 million 16 to 65-year-olds only have the numeracy skills of a primary school pupil, a figure that has increased over the last eight years.

BAE Systems group managing director Nigel Whitehead said: “Maths and science are crucial to the success of Britain’s youth and our nation’s future but it appears that we start to lose arithmetic skills as we grow up.

“Good maths skills open up so many opportunities both personally and professionally. With increased competition for jobs it is more important than ever that students keep working at maths and the sciences – continued study of these subjects will likely lead to rewarding and sustained employment in the engineering and technology sectors.”

National Numeracy chief executive Mike Ellicock said: “Being numerate means being able to use numbers and think mathematically, which is essential for so many aspects of everyday life and work, and this poll suggests that many people recognise that.

“We are developing the National Numeracy Challenge to respond to this and enable everyone to start to improve their maths. To anyone tempted to say ‘I can’t do maths’, we say ‘Yes, you can’.”

A separate study by the National Numeracy charity found that many UK adults feel they were badly prepared at school for the maths they will need in everyday life.

It also suggests that many adults did not enjoy their early experiences of maths, with 30 per cent admitting they found the subject “uninspiring” at school and one in four (24 per cent) saying maths was their least favourite lesson.

Minister calls for computer science education “revolution”

The UK minister for culture, communications and creative industry has called for a revolution in the way computer science is taught in our schools. Fearing a future drop in the number of students able to properly write programs (as opposed to those able to simply operate programs such as word processors and spreadsheets), Mr. Vaizey hopes to bring a “stronger” computer science curriculum to secondary schools.

Via EDGE.

Update: Dr. Richard Wilson of TIGA has responded to Ed Vaizey’s comments. (via EDGE)

The Power of The Sun

Visual exploration of the Power of the Sun by GE and Barbarian Group – stunning results!

MF, Studio, dbda

Gaming industry veteran introduces $25 computer, laments lack of computer science in schools

Veteran programmer David Braben has launched the Raspberry Pi (via a UK-registered charity, the Raspberry Pi Foundation), a $25 computer only slightly larger than a 20p piece, in the hope of rekindling an interest in computer science and programming in children, something he feels has been lacking from the UK curriculum in recent years.

Full story via EDGE via the BBC.

National Grid awarded ‘Beacon’ status by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service

Featured  in the Design and Technology with ICT Education Show, National Grid have been awarded ‘Beacon’ status by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service, placing them in the top 10% of education providers in the UK.

Read more of this post

The attributes of the average person!

National Geographic have researched the characteristics of the most average human being on the planet and listed the following as attributes of the ‘average person’:

  • The World’s largest ethnic group is Han Chinese (they predict this will be Indian by 2030) making this the ethnic background of the average person
  • Males outnumber females
  • The average median age is 28
  • Most of the population own a cell phone but do not have a bank account
  • The average wage is less than $12,000 a year
  • Most of the World population is right handed.

Watch the You Tube video to meet the man who has all of these characteristics, does he look familiar?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4B2xOvKFFz4

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