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Cbi Warns Of Impending Skills Shortages

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From BBC News

UK schools are letting down business by producing too few scientists, the Confederation of British Industry says.

Director-general Richard Lambert said bosses had "serious anxieties" and that more children needed to be allowed to study three science subjects at GCSE.

Alan Ward, UK chief executive of technology firm Siemens, said most 16-year-olds' knowledge was "dire".

The government said it was working to improve science teaching to make it "a more attractive option" for pupils.

A-level slump

The CBI said the current system, under which most pupils study for a "combined science" double GCSE - rather than chemistry, physics and biology separately - meant the curriculum had been "stripped down".

Even universities had to offer remedial classes to science students to help fill gaps in their knowledge, it added.

The CBI said the number of A-level students taking physics had fallen 56% in 20 years. In chemistry the decline was 37%.

The CBI estimates that the UK will need 2.4 million more people to work in scientific jobs by 2014.

We must smash the stereotypes that surround science

Richard Lambert, CBI

Mr Lambert said: "Employers are increasingly worried about the long-term decline in numbers studying A-level physics, chemistry and maths, and the knock-on effect on these subjects, and engineering, at university.

"They see, at first hand, the young people who leave school and university looking for a job, and compare them to what they need - and increasingly are looking overseas for graduates."

China, India, Brazil and eastern European countries were producing hundreds of thousands of scientists and engineers every year, he added.

Mr Lambert said: "This is not a criticism of young people - they work hard to achieve the best possible grades in the system provided.

"But it is clear we need more specialised teachers to share their enthusiasm for science and fire the imaginations of pupils, and to persuade them to study the core individual disciplines to high levels.

"We must smash the stereotypes that surround science and rebrand it as desirable and exciting; a gateway to some fantastic career opportunities.

"But the UK risks being knocked off its perch as a world-leader in science, engineering and technology. We cannot afford for this to happen."

Mr Lambert said the government had to set "more challenging" targets for getting people to study science.

Universities had to receive extra funding to offer more science degrees, he added.

Schools Minister Jim Knight said: "Increasing the number of scientists is a priority for this government and we are already making significant progress on delivering the actions being called for by the CBI."

The number of science graduates had increased since 1997, as had spending on teaching physics and chemistry in schools, he added.

Mr Knight said: "We have been working across government with employers, schools and experts in the field to both improve the quality of science teaching and make science a more attractive option.

"It is this joint working that will ensure we deliver the scientists of the future."

It´s not really a problem that science, communication and literacy skills are not up to the standards of potential employers.

Because in the golden utopia of New Labour´s miracle economy we can all live happily ever after as estate agents and buy-to-let landlords. Aah, heaven on earth ... B)

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I see a common theme running through the system, to wit, the likes of the people populating the various organisations such as the CBI, BOE (we have a direct link here in Lambert) increasingly have no clue as to what is really going on and we are getting increasing levels of spin and bull about what the economy is doing and its current and future requirements.

Students (both in school and further education) have been deserting the sciences and applied sciences in droves. There is good reason for this. Youngsters are not stupid, they can see exactly what careers in these areas bring from talking to the generations above who have participated in this sector and engineering/manufacturing in the UK - crap wages a lot of the time, little or no career progression, entry into a market sector that has been shrinking by 10,000's jobs a year, offshoring, outsourcing, closure, early redundancy, glass ceiling for technicallly skilled staff in business, bad management, specially designed taxes to clobber those who have skills that are actually marketable, no banking support to start a business, etc etc etc - why the hell bother.

Besides, If there is a labour shortage in these areas we can simply import people to do the job, after all in all likelihood they would have been educated in this country in the first place - large proportions of science and engineering courses are all already comprised of foreign students.

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We always have a so called labour shortage if the going rate for a job is over £10 per hour and then Blair ships a load more immigrants in telling us how he is doing us all a favour and when it comes to education then take a look at the ethnic make up of students coming out of our universities and also see that many whites have to pay and most non whites get it all for free.

Doing jobs the brits don’t want ???? does that include doctors as we are paying top buck for NHS and most doctors have been imported and we have lots of british people that would love to do these jobs

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Caledonian-Emigre,

I have nicked your comments from your earlier post on another thread, hope you don't mind, it exactly sums up the situtaion and where the real problem lies.

Here, here

Germany indeed still has a solid ecomony without the smoke and mirror effect of asset bubbles (just needs some stimulation of the domestic market though).

It provides me with a job as a technical manual and image brochure translator (and other Brits I know who are mechanical engineers and scientists). Britian on the other hand has priced me out of the housing market and I do not have the skills for the ethereal, spiv-centric activities like estate agents, economists etc. that are currently infesting UK society under Brown´s so-called miracle economy.

Edited by OnlyMe

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Most science jobs pay crap salaries. University research assistants only get around £25k pa and other government and private sector science jobs are paid £15-20k pa with some even requiring a PhD. It doesn't surprise me that youngsters are turning their nose up at science subjects and choosing finance or computers instead. I have A Levels in physics and chemistry and believe me if I were a 16 year old today I wouldn't take these subjects.

Until employers pay scientists a decent salary and improve career prospects then there is no bloody point even teaching science at schools. A certain LEA in the north of England is running down its science facilities in schools and improving maths and IT. This is because very few school leavers take science subjects at A Level and education critics believe the future economy is based on IT and financial services.

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I wouldn't recommend IT as a 'career' - you rarely make the 'money' quoted on ads, your invariably put under a lot of stress and pensioned off at 40...

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Here bloody here to the contributors on this thread!

Just for a second think about what we could be doing and what we are doing:

Could Be Doing ____________________________________________________________ Are Doing _____________________________________________

Telling our children science is THE TRUTH and worthwhile in itself ____________________ Encouraging a more "inclusive" view, suggesting religion is as important

Tell our children science is noble ______________________________________________ Associate science with terrorism when religion is the issue

Reward peopel for knowledge ________________________________________________ Reward people for being convincing

Employing technology to make level crossings safe _______________________________ Employing persuaders to pen TV ads encouraging us to be more careful

Employing technology to sniff for explosives at airports etc ________________________ Employing spin doctors to worry us about the terrorist threat

Employ technology to counter MRSA ___________________________________________ Employing administrators to compile league tables

Employ technology to counter ecological disaster _________________________________ Employing spin doctors to convince us nuclear is the only way

Employ technology to cut down false fire engine call out ___________________________ Offer key worker loans cos fireman wage rises too expensive

Foster a climate where growth is rewarded ______________________________________ Foster a climate where sweating assets is rewarded

Please feel free to contribute.

Edited by Sledgehead

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Flipping through the internal vacancies this morning, I see requirements for engineers right the way through from apprentice (huzzah!) to graduate to very senior top level positions.

Interviewing grads recently, one of them couldn't remember her own final year project. Well that was three years well spent, wasn't it?

Interestingly, we are ALWAYS short of decent software engineers; the best softies tend to grow from engineering and science disciplines. The IT grads are often useful only for keeping the PCs running and configuring the software - actual creative work demands mathematical abilities these IT grads frequently don't have. Many IT degrees don't even require maths A-Level, so clearly there's no intention of training them to do anything other than maintain the tools for the people doing the creative work.

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IMO students avoid science based subject cos they are hard- meedjah studies or some other load of toot is a piece of cake in comparison.

Just having a degree guarantees nowt- having a degree in a employable subject at a good grade is where it's at.

Dave Cameron was on a radio trail bla, bla ing about his A level in history of art- a classic case of a pointless qualification- unless you are going to be an art dealer or work in the auction industry how the hell is art history relevant to getting a good job?

Germany rightly has an enviable reputation for world beating engineering- we have a reputation for................... erm............ not that much.

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Study Science!

Work your **** of for 6 years to get a decent post grad degree!

Get £10,000s into debt!

Get a job that pays £15,000pa!

Not bloody likely.

If any of you have kids who are thinking of studying science, slap them hard and tell them not to be so goddam stupid.

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Just having a degree guarantees nowt-

Your SO wrong...

It guarantees debt for the student and lower unemployments statistics for the Government during studies and after graduation when they have to compete with immigrants for low paid work to pay off their student loan

So there you have it - university expansion is a way of dropping unemployment statistics (like they've done with the CPI) at YOUR expense

This means they can turn round and say - we have the lowest unemeployment and inflation for a generation - when in fact we have the highest...

Smoke and mirrors Government....

/rant over/

Edited by dnd

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Flipping through the internal vacancies this morning, I see requirements for engineers right the way through from apprentice (huzzah!) to graduate to very senior top level positions.

Interviewing grads recently, one of them couldn't remember her own final year project. Well that was three years well spent, wasn't it?

No: she was lying from start to finsih I suspect...

Interestingly, we are ALWAYS short of decent software engineers; the best softies tend to grow from engineering and science disciplines. The IT grads are often useful only for keeping the PCs running and configuring the software

But don't you have a dilemma here. If you won't take folks over 40, you are probably trashing those with proper science and maths degrees, so all you will be left with are the "did a bit of computer work with media studies so call it software engineering" types?

- actual creative work demands mathematical abilities these IT grads frequently don't have. Many IT degrees don't even require maths A-Level, so clearly there's no intention of training them to do anything other than maintain the tools for the people doing the creative work.

Reminds me of my time with a computer games outfit. I'm doing the data proc stuff, anything from spatial representation to compression algorithms, but not the 3D rendering. In comes some new kid who is supposedly down with all that. Boss man tells him what needs doing and it's blank looks all around. Boss man looks at a loss to explain (far too geeky) and turns to me for a comment. Off the top of my head I describe how I would translate the data to a perspective view using simple trig. Boss man says, yeah, that's how it's done. New guy looks unsure. New guy fails to turn up the next day .... or ever again!

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JJJ,

Agree with most of your post. However -

Interestingly, we are ALWAYS short of decent software engineers; the best softies tend to grow from engineering and science disciplines.

I know a string of very talented, top educated underemployed even unemployed engineering/software people. Luckily I left the discipline early, saw what was coming. Nowadays most jobs come with an armful of qualifications and recent experience which ofetn is absurd in the extreme - if you can do the job you can do it, regardless of platform/language/market sector - far too many employers are not willing to take any sort of risk or employ anybody with this extremely tight skills list which suggests to me that they really are not that short of staff at all. This highlioghts the real jeopardy of a science/engineering career - no specialism, crap wages, it is a constantly moving market and specilisms become redundant at a frightening rate and it is scrap heap time becuae of the above employer behaviour.

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My feedbacl to the CBI:

Sir,

I think you are somewhat misguided in your news release entitled "UK's

WORLD-CLASS SCIENCE BASE UNDER THREAT AS YOUNG PEOPLE TURN THEIR BACK ON

SCIENCE"

You appear to be blaming a stripped-down science curriculum, a lack of

specialist teachers and uninspiring careers advice.

Let me tell you something. I studied for a total of 8 years (including

A-Levels) to become a scientist. I graduated in 2002 from the University

of Cape Town with an MSc in molecular and cell biology and then moved back

to the UK to find my fortune as a scientist.

It took 14 months of working menial and manual temp jobs before I could

get a 1-year contract as a research technician at UCL's haematology

department. My pay? the princely sum of £14,950 per annum. Nor is my

experience unique. Most of the technicians where I worked had took at

least a year, and some two, of job hunting before landing a job in

science. Some had almost given up hope of ever working in the profession

for which they had studied

After 8 months I left the world as science and joined the Metropolitan

Police as a civilian staff member, Why? round about a 60% pay rise. If I

were to train as a constable, my pay would be double that of most research

technicians. If I were to be a tube driver, my pay would be more than

double. The problem is compounded when you take into account the loss of

earnings during all those years of studying when my less erudite

contemporaries were out earning large sums of money. Tuition fees will

further aggravate this.

Add to this the increasing suspicion with which scientists are viewed by

an increasingly neo-luddite society and I think you begin to get the idea

of what the real problem is. Scientists are highly qualified and, I think

you’ll agree, vital to the future of the UK. Yet scientists are underpaid

and undervalued by society

Studying science is simply not a worthwhile investment. When it comes to

careers advice, if I was asked, I would advise school children most

vigorously NOT to study science. No one will thank you for it.

Until wages and attitudes change, no child of mine will make the mistake I

did and waste their youth studying science.

Regards,

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Sledge.

New guy looks unsure. New guy fails to turn up the next day .... or ever again!

Reminds me of the first lecture of the first day of college. Maths, a real beut it was as well, I could tell by the silence that my gut reaction (gut being the operative word) was not unique. The experience was enough for one student to walk to out at the end never to be seen again. :lol:

After three years the course overseers then complained that the students were becoming too academic and that the entry grades 2A's+1B were too high and needed to be relaxed. Of course it was all down to head count and the expansion of the university sector.

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The low oil price of the early 90's is coming to the fore here in Aberdeen. The skills shortage is phenomenal and companies are having to pay top whack to retain staff never mind fill vacanies. The lack of trainees taken on 10 years or so ago now means a dearth in suitable staff at a time when there is so much investment in the industry worldwide.

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But don't you have a dilemma here. If you won't take folks over 40, you are probably trashing those with proper science and maths degrees, so all you will be left with are the "did a bit of computer work with media studies so call it software engineering" types?

Not sure how you got this impression - we take people on to fill the slots; we just recently took on a chap in his forties who had the skills we needed. In the engineer market it's quite possible to hop between companies for most of one's career. Indeed, to fill the slots above grad level we have to take on people in their thirties/forties/fifties.

With regards to sofies not being engineers, perhaps I should expand. The kind of softies we need are usually made out of engineers, for the simple reason that their software is going to have to work alongside systems that very definitely are engineered. Perhaps understanding inherently the limitations and characteristics of the real world is the requirement. Even if software engineering is not engineering, I need it to be done by engineers. Presumably systems that exist only within the computer don't need this (games etc?).

In conclusion, where I wrote "the best softies tend to grow from engineering and science disciplines" please read "the best softies for engineered systems tend to grow from engineering and science disciplines". Commence arguing... now!

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JJJ,

Yes, add in any element of real-time / embedded system code to a project and your average PC code-jockey would probably be on his knees - not knocking, it is just a different mindset and discipline. You will be employing even more 30/40/50 year olds, there will be almost no-one around with the skills for your sector.

Edited by OnlyMe

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JJJ,

Agree with most of your post. However -

Interestingly, we are ALWAYS short of decent software engineers; the best softies tend to grow from engineering and science disciplines.

I know a string of very talented, top educated underemployed even unemployed engineering/software people. Luckily I left the discipline early, saw what was coming. Nowadays most jobs come with an armful of qualifications and recent experience which ofetn is absurd in the extreme - if you can do the job you can do it, regardless of platform/language/market sector - far too many employers are not willing to take any sort of risk or employ anybody with this extremely tight skills list which suggests to me that they really are not that short of staff at all. This highlioghts the real jeopardy of a science/engineering career - no specialism, crap wages, it is a constantly moving market and specilisms become redundant at a frightening rate and it is scrap heap time becuae of the above employer behaviour.

Your remarks on specialisation are spot on.

I do however wonder whether your conculsions about scarcity are similarly "on the pulse".

It occurs to me that the pace of technology often leaves employers ignorant of new developments. Consequently they really have no idea how different one development script, environment, modelling approach, lifecycle or QA appoach might be from another language, platform, design approach, system enginering methodology or test suite. This means that if you say you have X and they want X' , you just don't fit the requirement, even if X -> X' requires only a weekend course in Luton. It's a shame. I blame lazy employers. Often what they end up with are blaggers. hence all the failed and over-run developments.

In this regard, you could say we don't just ahve a shortage of newly qualifieds with the proper skills, but a shortage of proper skills even amongst those who are eemploying.

JJJ, any views?

Edited by Sledgehead

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Just this morning around the kettle I was looking at the assembled engineers (chatting, most gratifyingly, about UML/DODAF/MODAF, the UK export situation in general and with regards to our specific product range, and the interesting history of how railways were first nationalised) and it struck me just how many of them will be retiring in the next decade or so.

We've got a big problem looming.

Edited by JJJ

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far too many employers are not willing to take any sort of risk or employ anybody with this extremely tight skills list which suggests to me that they really are not that short of staff at all.

That depends. If you're looking for someone to knock out noddy Visual Basic or Java programs you'll have your choice of thousands of people, but if you're looking for someone who can write efficient embedded software, you won't find many... people who understand the basics of programming are everywhere, people with some clue about how computers work are rare.

I agree on the science front, though: they can whine all they like about the importance of people studying science, but their pay shows that they're not considered important at all.

Just this morning around the kettle I was looking at the assembled engineers (chatting, most gratifyingly, about UML/DODAF/MODAF, the UK export situation in general and with regards to our specific product range, and the interesting history of how railways were first nationalised) and it struck me just how many of them will be retiring in the next decade or so.

An acquaintance who retired from NASA recently said the same thing: some huge percentage of their engineers are nearing retirement now, presumably most of them joined in the Apollo days when 'rocket science' was the place to be. There are huge problems stored up over the last few decades which are now coming back to bite us in the ass.

Edited by MarkG

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I wouldn't recommend IT as a 'career' - you rarely make the 'money' quoted on ads, your invariably put under a lot of stress and pensioned off at 40...

Very true. I buy the local papers on a thursday as that is jobs day. I laugh when I get to the IT listings section and it just contains adverts for companies that will train you up in IT as ther are lots of vacant IT roles. Funny that there aren't any IT jobs listed.

Thankfully I chose IT as a career because I'm what you'd call a geek. I actually enjoy tinkering with and understanding technology. For those of you that just see it as a career, forget it. You'll be bored stiff and the pay is crap.

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It occurs to me that the pace of technology often leaves employers ignorant of new developments. Consequently they really have no idea how different one development script, environment, modelling approach, lifecycle or QA appoach might be from another language, platform, design approach, system enginering methodology or test suite. This means that if you say you have X and they want X' , you just don't fit the requirement, even if X -> X' requires only a weekend course in Luton. It's a shame. I blame lazy employers. Often what they end up with are blaggers. hence all the failed and over-run developments.

I think there is a lot of truth in that. Probably why these projects go so far off track - a team of developers who are quite willing to say "yes, things are going tickety boo and your original requirements spec was spot on", the managers bluffed by the same indivduals that bluffed them at the interview, then BANG.

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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