Skills shortages in key areas are starting to bite

Oliver Smith
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TALENT shortages in key fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem) are increasing as the number of graduates with a relevant degree drops while the number of vacancies for these roles continues to increase.

Over the coming months temporary vacancies for jobs in the Stem sector will increase by 1.6 per cent as employers turn to short term workers to plug the gap, according to a report today from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (Apsco).

“With the economy continuing to show signs of stability, and our data revealing many sectors are returning to growth, the UK must do something to address the skills shortage before it’s too late,” said Apsco chief executive Ann Swain.

“The problem facing the Stem arena is not a new phenomenon yet the government, educational institutions, and UK businesses are failing to make any meaningful changes,” added Swain.

According to research by the Royal Academy of Engineering, the minimum number of Stem graduates required to fulfil industry demand is around 100,000 a year, but with only 90,000 UK graduates leaving university with a Stem degree, companies are left with jobs unfilled.

“The longstanding Stem course take up, coupled with some people opting for a joint honours degree, has led to a lack of technical skills in the in tray of employers,” said ReThink Recruitment director Michael Bennett.

“The evidence is presented to hiring managers in the form of a large candidate pool which, when on closer inspection, is diluted by scores of students with general business – IT skills, who lack the core techie expertise the industry is crying out for,” added Bennett.

While the IT sector was hardest hit throughout the recession, its recovery is now increasing the skills shortage.

The UK tech sector increased its vacancies last month by 0.9 per cent and is expected to continue to create more jobs over the next 12 months.