More students must study STEM subjects at A Level, warns IET

As around 335,000 students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland receive their A Level results today, the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has issued a warning that more young people need to study STEM subjects if we are to turn around the economy.

Despite a reported uptake in the number of young people choosing STEM subjects this year, figures from the IET suggest that an extra 200,000 engineering professionals will be needed by 2020. Currently, the UK is only producing 25 to 50% of the engineering graduates that the economy needs. Stephanie Fernandes, IET principal policy advisor for education and skills, commented: "Whilst entries for STEM subjects have risen, it is important that young people continue their studies into higher education; the country needs more people studying science and engineering subjects at university and taking up jobs in this sector. "We are at risk of stifling economic growth if we do not encourage more students to study STEM subjects which are crucial to increase the output of UK plc." Also commenting on today's A level results, Terry Scuoler, chief executive of EEF, the manufacturers' organisation, said: "Whilst attainment rates still remain relatively high we are still not seeing enough students studying maths, sciences and other technology related topics which are of key importance to employers. It is widely acknowledged that students qualifying in these topics at whatever level are in short supply. This is leaving key sectors of our economy such as manufacturing which we are relying on for growth and, which rely on high skills, struggling to meet their needs. "It is also vital that those students who do not get the appropriate grades consider the vocational route to a degree through an apprenticeship, rather than struggling through clearing to fill places on courses which neither employers or our economy need."