Is the message getting through?
The fact that the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has come to the conclusion that universities are not producing enough science and engineering graduates with the skills needed by UK industry is clearly to be welcomed. Any official recognition of the severity of this problem that brings it to greater prominence (and thereby causes it to be addressed) can only be a good thing.
Even so, it is hard to believe that it could have taken the Committee until now to arrive at this conclusion, particularly as industry has been crying out for action on this problem for years. One's reaction to the news that the
Committee's chairman Lord Willis declared himself "gobsmacked" by the results is to ask how this could come as a surprise? After all, anyone who has been talking to those in engineering in recent years has been hearing a fairly constant stream of complaints about the shortage of properly skilled recruits.
Even so, one must acknowledge that Lord Willis' bald statement that "the quality of the STEM graduates coming out of universities does not meet the requirements of industry" has attracted a degree of welcome media attention. It has served to put this urgent problem at the the top of the news agenda in a way that any number of business leaders raising the same issue has failed to do has not. And, if the Committee's report brings positive action, then we must all be grateful.
What is worrying, though, is that it has seemingly taken this report to draw the UK's attention to this problem. This is because it suggests that the voices of industry and engineering are still not being heard as they should be by government and media, with their messages only filtering through once endorsed by a politician. If the necessary urgent action is to be taken, this situation needs to change.
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