19 May 2010

Is the skills gap hampering business growth?

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Science, technology, engineering and maths - the STEM subjects - are set to play a vital part in the region's economic future. But companies are already struggling to recruit skilled staff

Science and engineering are set to be key areas of growth in the region and major job creators.

But businesses are already struggling to recruit staff with the skills to meet demands - and the situation is set to intensify as the industries grow, according to a major survey.

The report, by business organisation CBI, showed 45pc of companies were currently having difficulty finding new employees with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths - known as STEM subjects.

And an even more worrying 59pc said they expected to have problems securing those key skills in three years' time.

While schools, colleges and universities are already taking steps to address the shortage of STEM skills, the CBI urged the new government to make the issue a top priority and encourage more young people to study the key subjects.

Richard Lambert, CBI director general, said: “As we move further into recovery and businesses plan for growth, the demand for people with high-quality skills and qualifications will intensify.

“In the future, people with qualifications in science and maths will be particularly sought after, and firms say it is already hard to find people with the right technical or engineering skills.

“The new government must make encouraging more young people to study science-related subjects a top priority.

“Businesses can help by showing that these skills lead to exciting and rewarding careers, helping to tackle the big challenges, such as climate change and energy security.”

Norfolk has long been viewed as a low-skilled county, with many businesses struggling to find candidates with the skills they need, particularly in areas such as engineering.

(Evening News 24)

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