Top brass want more cash for science class
CBI floats £1k annual spod stipend
Top business leaders have called for science and engineering undergrads to be given an extra £1,000 per year to help reverse the decline in Britain's pool of technical talent.
According to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the golden carrot would tempt the youth away from claptrap like David Beckham studies and French.
The lobby group also proposes the brightest 40 per cent of 14-year-olds automatically do separate sciences at GCSE, extra funding for careers advice, investment in school science labs, and more specialist science teachers.
CBI chief Richard Lambert said: "Some employers are already finding it difficult to get the right talent, and the problem is set to get worse. The UK cannot compete with the developing world on low-skilled jobs, so to thrive in the global market we must excel in the higher-skilled roles that demand expertise and innovation."
The CBI reckons young people are unaware of the extra cash they'll earn in a technical career as compared to something useless like, say, journalism. Chemistry and physics graduates can expect to bag an extra £60,000 over the course of their career on average.
Industry leaders made the call in time for the annual Decline of the British Empire (as measured by exam results)™ season that kicks off on Thursday. ®
Attracting top students to STUDY Science and Engineering is just the start.
I graduated from Imperial College in London last year in the top handful of students in my year, and I am the only student to go on to a technical role outside of the banking/management consultancy cabal. Even with a great engineering job, it goes without saying that my starting salary was about 70% that of my contemporaries in the city.
With the cream of science and engineering students skimmed off every year, pushing more mediocre talent through the university system seems like a very expensive and inefficient way for the CBI's members to improve their graduate intake (albeit, they did not obviously propose fund 1k stipends themselves). A far better strategy would be to pay above average starting salaries (>£30k for Imperial graduates) and make it clear how their company rewards (pay, bonus, respect) and nurtures (training, innovation time) talent.
There are plenty of programmes aiming to raise the profile of science and engineering, particularly aimed at school kids, plenty of which are funded (indirectly) by the government (and thankfully none that involves Vorderman!). The kids I've seen on some of these courses/events are really enthusiastic about science but only because they get to do practical stuff (many schools don't even have laboratories any more) and these programmes give them that opportunity.
Trouble is that because you don't see any "tangible results" from the schemes after the first year or two (because it takes many more years before uni application rates or job numbers/pay increase), the research councils and universities are unwilling to continue the funding and the programme dies.
Remove the focus on immediate results and give these programmes time - a simple cash incentive might've worked for teaching, but it'll take a lot more effort and time for a similar effect to be seen in sci/eng.
@Steve Browne: Why only O-levels?
Steve, maybe this was years back when industry had proper vocational training, but the question needs to be asked: why stop at O-levels and then expect a decent job? As it stands now (and as it was when I left school 15 years back), if you leave school at 16 and don't go on to further education, you're almost certainly going to be doing menial work for peanuts, because you won't have the skills to do anything else.