London ,

Letter to the Economist-Nipping STEM skills shortage in the bud

The concerns raised about the STEM skills gap threatening the UK’s economic growth needs to be a key priority for policymakers after the election (“Mind the gap - 11th April). Now that we are firmly on the road to recovery, the focus should be on quality of employment opportunities, not just quantity, if we are to boost productivity. Take one area of rapid growth in the City – financial technology. The sector appears to be unstoppable, employing over 44,000 people and seeing a tripling of investment last year to $12.2 billion. This progress will stall if we cannot upskill enough people in science, technology and engineering disciplines. There is no magic bullet solution. In the long-term, it will involve more business engagement with schools to support skills development of the future workforce, more high-quality apprenticeships in key sectors, and in the short term, a relaxation of the visa system to attract talented workers from overseas. The STEM skills gap impacts all areas of the UK’s economy; from the Dyson plant in Wiltshire to London’s future as a global financial centre.

Mark Boleat

Policy chairman of the City of London Corporation