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UTC's preparing students for STEM careers

A new report released today by the charity that promotes University Technical Colleges like the Greater Peterborough UTC reveals that nearly half (45%) of 20-35 year olds working in STEM related roles (science, technology, engineering and maths) believe the subjects they studied at school are useless in the world of work. A greater number (61%) thought that learning technical skills would have been more useful than studying traditional academic subjects

The survey of one thousand young STEM workers was commissioned by Baker Dearing Educational Trust. It found that three out of five (60%) of those surveyed didn’t believe teachers had a sufficient understanding of the labour market and a similar number (63%) felt that schools didn’t understand the skills employers needed.

Principal Steve Warburton had this to say: “Greater Peterborough UTC is committed to preparing students for demanding roles in STEM-related careers. We know that this means the development of skills and aptitudes - focusing on collaboration, communication and teamwork - that are worth investing in at the beginning of their careers because they are valuable to the students and important to their future employers”.

Three out of five of those surveyed (63%) felt employers didn’t have enough say in what schools teach and over half of respondents (55%) also admitted that they didn’t understand how the subjects they learnt at school could be used in the world of work.

Lord Baker, Chairman, Baker Dearing Educational Trust says:

“As we head towards Brexit the challenge for our education system is to ensure we equip students with the skills they need to forge successful careers in key areas like science, engineering and computing which our economy increasingly demands. This report shows that the current education system fails to provide these young people with opportunities to develop the technical skills they need to get the jobs they want.

“Every attempt to improve technical and hands-on vocational learning since 1870 has failed – most killed by snobbery.  UTCs are part of a small minority of schools which are attempting to meet the skills demands of industry and give students a well-rounded education to help them meet their full potential.  UTCs exist because students want them, employers like them and the economy needs them.”

Recent research by OECD[1] suggests more than a quarter of pupils (28%) in England hope to be working in a science-related career by the time they are 30 years old. However, the findings in this report suggest there is a big disconnect between what young people are learning in schools and what employers demand of them in the workplace. 

Other findings

  • Computer science, maths and English were by far the most popular subjects and 70% felt this was because they had relevance to the real world.
  • Half (53%) of respondents thought employers preferred an academic rather than a technical education.
  • More than half (59%) of respondents reported that they received a poor standard of careers advice.
  • The experiences of the youngest STEM workers that were surveyed suggests that winning the first STEM job is much more challenging now than before. Half of the STEM workers surveyed aged between 32 and 35 secured their first job within five job applications but, amongst those aged between 20 and 22, just 31 per cent managed this.