British kids who fear maths and science are too difficult are jeopardising the UK economy, a report warns today.
Tough Choices, a new report by Your Life campaign in partnership with AT Kearney and supported by the CBI, found that young people are steering clear from studying maths and physics A-levels, which are seen as too theoretical, inaccessible, and only for the “ultra-bright.”
Yet they unlock a vast array of exciting jobs, which are fundamental to the businesses we operate and the UK’s global competitiveness.
Claudia Harris, CEO of The Careers & Enterprise Company, said: “Today Your Life report shows a worrying trend of young people – particularly girls – losing interest in STEM subjects while in secondary education. The percentage of men currently taking A-level Physics courses is nearly four times higher than women. The report found this is because young people don’t fully understand the relevance of STEM subjects to future careers.
“While fewer young people study STEM subjects, and according to our Cold Spots Report this varies considerably regionally, there is huge demand for STEM related skills in the workplace.
“This is why it is so critical that we address youth engagement while in secondary education, so we can secure the future workforce STEM-specific industries need and begin to tackle UK’s already problematic skills shortage.
“The solution lies in making it easier for schools and colleges to connect with employers in the STEM sphere and, in doing so, create encounters that will inspire young people about future careers and the possibilities that are unlocked by taking STEM subjects.”
This report addresses the skills gap and aims to help inspire change by providing an insight into students’ thinking and the choices they face.
In the future business will be increasingly dependent on digital knowledge and numerical analytics, which puts a high premium on maths and physics skills in young adults.
As the report shows the challenge for us is that science and Maths are still seen by students as too abstract and theoretical, with little real application and suited only to the very bright. It also shows that students are unaware of the opportunities that even basic knowledge in these subjects can provide: opening doors to almost any job, in almost any sector.
These skills are in high demand in the working world, but if students remain unaware of this they will continue to turn away from Maths and Physics at A Level. The additional, unfortunate consequence of this means that UK firms will struggle to find the skills they need in the future.