How to STEM the growing tide of vacant technical roles in the UK

It’s no secret that Britain is not training enough people with the skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) that UK companies need. So, what is being done to address this balance, and how does it help hiring managers looking for top talent now?

One of the barriers for children learning to code has always been its unforgiving nature. A single out-of-place colon can render an entire script inoperable, which can be disheartening. However, with coding now embedded in the national curriculum, the basics are being introduced early in classrooms. One of the most popular ways to inspire children has been the introduction of the Raspberry Pi – essentially a motherboard on its own, this ‘pocket money’ computer costs only a few pounds and can be attached to a range of peripherals, giving students their first experience of coding. On the practical side, a range of afterschool clubs with names like Code Club and Magical Maths are springing up. While this provides hope for the future, it’s not that helpful if you need to recruit people now.

Turning to universities, there has been a real push to focus on STEM subjects; however, as these subjects are more expensive to teach than traditional arts subjects, they offer less profit now that virtually all university courses cost the same. Many universities are still offering dedicated scholarships for STEM subjects, as well as partnerships with leading companies. For a large company, partnering with the right course and offering placements for students could lead to a steady stream of talent.

Apprenticeships offer a more direct route for young people interested in a career in STEM. Combining traditional on-the-job training with flexible academic study and the chance to amass a number of higher-level qualifications, apprenticeship schemes offer an excellent way for a company to invest in future staff, while students get to learn as they earn. However, apprenticeships still struggle with an image of being seen as less prestigious than a degree, and more work needs to be done to highlight the benefits they offer.

Another key element is ensuring a gender balance within STEM. Our society has conditioned many people to think (often subconsciously) that science, technology and engineering are ‘boys’ subjects’; while any rational person knows this is a ludicrous notion, removing inbuilt biases is an arduous task. Athena SWAN is a national programme that promotes gender equality in the STEM fields: it awards organisations ranks of bronze, silver or gold, and such awards encourage more women to get involved at all levels.

The key skills needed for a competent engineer do not have to include the ability to wield a set of spanners, but rather imagination and problem-solving. Most engineering jobs, especially skilled ones, will largely be spent in front of a computer screen rather than underneath a car.

While the challenges faced by companies looking to recruit STEM candidates will remain high in the short to medium term, with such a focus on STEM from the government and HE and FE sectors there are huge opportunities as well. To learn more about boosting the digital resources in your company, talk to our specialist team at Clifford Associates today.

 

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  • Tom Salvat, CEO, CONCURED
    "As a fast-growing start up, we need great people with a tough set of skills to find. They need to be hungry, experienced and fit the culture of a business that is always adapting and growing. Finding these people using Linkedin and other job boards is tough, time-consuming and rarely bears fruit. Ross has always been able to uncover gems for us, and we are benefiting greatly from his skills at CONCURED. Ross has a rare ability to really understand the business, the culture and the people that will nail the role. I couldn't recommend him highly enough, and he is the only recruiter we deal with"      
    - Tom Salvat, CEO, CONCURED
    Tom Salvat, CEO, CONCURED
  • Tariq Mahmood, Enterprise Sales, Concured AI Content Marketing
    I am writing to express my gratitude to Ross Clifford & Associates who helped me successfully secure the role of Enterprise Sales Executive at Concured. Ross was extremely professional and understood the specifics of the job I required. I especially appreciated his fast response, transparent communication, and coordination in a timely and efficient manner.
    - Tariq Mahmood, Enterprise Sales, Concured AI Content Marketing
    Tariq Mahmood, Enterprise Sales, Concured AI Content Marketing
  • Jessica Cole, Editor – Redwood London.
    Ross is one of the friendliest recruiters I've dealt with. He was always attentive, quick to respond and ready to help with any questions I had. He's very professional, and not at all superficial like so many other recruiters out there. I would highly recommend him.
    - Jessica Cole, Editor – Redwood London.
    Jessica Cole, Editor – Redwood London.
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    “We look for commercial people with a rare blend of talents. They need to be able to advise our blue-chip clients on thought leadership strategy. They need to be highly strategic and purposeful in uncovering opportunity. And they need the hunger it takes to thrive in a rapidly evolving business. RC&A were quick to understand our needs, they only delivered high-quality people for interview, and succeeded in getting us a winning candidate incredibly fast.”  
    - Gareth Lofthouse, Founding Partner, Longitude.
    Gareth Lofthouse, Founding Partner, Longitude.
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    I can't rate or recommend Ross highly enough. He brings a thoughtful, personal approach to the process, carefully matching opportunities with candidates, through a good understanding of their priorities and skills. Throughout, he keeps candidates up to date in an open, honest way. A genuine pleasure to work with.
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    Johnny Meredith, Senior New Business Manager, The Bio Agency.
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    Ross is the best recruitment agent I have worked with, he stayed in contact, kept me informed and was with me every step of the process. He also checked in with me during my first couple of weeks in my new role to make sure I was settling in. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend him.
    - Karen Troman, Office Manager & HR Co-ordinator, VoucherCodes.co.uk part of RetailMeNot
    Karen Troman, Office Manager & HR Co-ordinator, VoucherCodes.co.uk part of RetailMeNot
  • Neil Kettleborough, CRO & Co Founder, Chalk Social
    I have worked with Ross over 4 years now and he has always delivered a really high standard of candidate both at senior and junior level. His online knowledge is second to none and all the candidates he has put forward over the years have only good things to say about Ross and his work ethic.
    - Neil Kettleborough, CRO & Co Founder, Chalk Social
    Neil Kettleborough, CRO & Co Founder, Chalk Social
  • Helen Rosemier, Commercial Director, Professional & Financial Services Practice, Longitude
    Ross is a fantastic recruitment consultant -  extremely professional, meticulous, patient and supportive. Throughout the process, I felt he represented me really well and genuinely cared about my career and finding the right role. Thanks to Ross I am now in a role I love, working with a brilliant team. Very highly recommended!
    - Helen Rosemier, Commercial Director, Professional & Financial Services Practice, Longitude
    Helen Rosemier, Commercial Director, Professional & Financial Services Practice, Longitude

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