With A-level results being published today, many organisations are expressing relief that STEM subjects are on the rise, but suggest that there is still work to do.
Lee James, Chief Technology Officer at Rackspace EMEA, said that demand for skilled IT workers is still outstripping supply.
"Today's results show a step in the right direction for STEM skills in the UK, with further rises in these subjects despite a fall in the number of 18 year-olds nationally," said James. "As the technology industry moves at an unprecedented speed, so with it does the demand for the skills UK businesses need. Not only to keep the lights on and systems ticking over, but to continue innovate. We've seen adverts for skills sky rocketing in areas that are fairly new to the scene.
"For instance, demand in microservices rose by a staggering 133 per cent in the last year alone. This evolving landscape, combined with a competitive skills market, particularly in the IT sector, means that we need a dynamic pool of talent in order to continue driving digital transformation across businesses. This can be supported if students are given opportunities to develop their technical skills and are also taught how to continue to develop throughout their career. Until then, businesses can help mitigate the impact of current skills shortages by taking necessary steps to upskill their staff and ensure they have access to the resources they need to develop.
"It's important to drive forward the skills that will define or future work force, whether in school and college, or the work place," he argued.
Charles Senabulya, VP and Country Manager for SAS UKI agreed that more young people need to take up STEM subjects in order to fill the roles which will be created by new trends like AI and robotics.
"The uptake in STEM grades demonstrates that students are aware of the potential these skills will have in securing a career in our data-driven economy," said Senabulya. "Today, we must capture this enthusiasm and build a solid foundation for the future in areas of analytics, business intelligence and data management to ensure the UK can compete on the global stage.
"The arrival of artificial intelligence, robotics and smart technologies will help automate previously manual tasks and drive a change in tomorrow's job roles. British businesses are looking for ways to action insight from captured data now more than ever. Why? To give them a competitive advantage in our digital-first society. And it will be those students with a solid understanding of STEM who will help unlock this edge.
"For students entering the workforce either now or after they have completed their university education, job titles like ‘data strategist' and ‘data scientist' will be commonplace. These are real-world opportunities available to today's students. In fact, our research shows that big data and the internet of things could add £322 billion to the UK economy by 2020, and there is a strong demand for those skilled to work in these fields.
"To get there, we need to make a concerted effort to focus our support on young people in these subjects throughout schools and colleges, and encourage them to broaden their knowledge at university. Only then will we be on the path to creating a data-driven culture that ensures the UK remains at the forefront of innovation in the years to come," he added.
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