The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee is conducting an inquiry into people and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the UK. The committee invites written contributions by Tuesday 6 September 2022.
During the Committee’s inquiry into delivering a science and technology strategy, it heard concerns about the availability of skilled individuals for STEM related careers.
Post-Brexit reforms to the UK’s immigration system, such as the introduction of the High Potential Individual visa, Global Talent visa and its associated fast track for winners of prestigious prizes, are intended to attract talented individuals with STEM skills to the UK. The Committee is interested in whether the UK remains an attractive place for international STEM talent and what effect the visa reforms are having on that.
The Government wants to increase the proportion of UK gross domestic product spent on research and development (R&D) to 2.4% by 2027 from the current 1.74%. Increasing R&D spending to such an extent will require a workforce with sufficient STEM skills and teachers with adequate STEM knowledge to educate the next generation. The Committee is interested in the skills the UK workforce is currently lacking and those it will need in the future. We are also interested in the measures the Government can take to address any skills gaps, including supporting workers to retrain and gain new, in particular technical, skills mid-career.
In its inquiry into Delivering a UK science and technology strategy the Committee received extensive evidence on the importance of diverse careers in science which allow individuals to gain experience and use their talents across government, industry and academia. The Committee intends to draw on that evidence in this inquiry.
The Committee is seeking evidence on the following questions (there is no requirement to answer all questions in your submission):
1) How attractive is the UK as a place for people with STEM skills to move to and make a career and has this changed recently?
- What challenges face scientists and people with STEM skills seeking to move to the UK? What can be done to address these?
- Can the UK learn from steps taken by other countries to attract and incentivise STEM talent?
- Is the UK’s post-Brexit visa system, including the criteria applied, appropriate to attract the STEM talent the UK needs?
- Is there any evidence of a “brain drain” from the UK in STEM fields? Should consideration be given to schemes to incentivise skilled individuals to return to the UK from abroad, for example to work in the NHS?
2) What STEM skills is the UK lacking and what skills are likely to be in high demand in future?
- Are businesses able to recruit people with appropriate STEM skills?
- Are STEM graduates being sufficiently prepared for highly skilled careers?
- What is being done to allow for people to develop STEM skills across multiple disciplines throughout their career? What could improve this?
- Is the STEM skills gap growing or shrinking?
3) What measures is the Government taking to address any STEM skills gap? Are they sufficient to address the requirements of wider government policy aims for science and technology, including net zero?
- Do cultural influences such as social media have a role to play in increasing uptake in STEM careers? Could the Government do more to encourage this?
- Is there sufficient training in STEM skills available for workers who want to retrain? What schemes are there and how easy are they to access?
- How easy is it to recruit teachers with scientific skills and expertise? What more can be done to encourage highly skilled individuals from all backgrounds to go into STEM education?
- How much of a role could (and should) the private sector play in retraining their workers, or supporting workers to retrain?
Quality of academic careers
4) What major challenges face those in academic scientific careers at present, and in the recent past?
- How should the Government encourage a wider range of people to pursue STEM academic careers?
- What more could be done to address the precarity of STEM academic careers, particularly in the early stages?
This is a public call for evidence. Please bring it to the attention of other groups and individuals who may not have received a copy directly.
Diversity comes in many forms and hearing a range of different perspectives means that committees are better informed and can more effectively scrutinise public policy and legislation. Committees can undertake their role most effectively when they hear from a wide range of individuals, sectors or groups in society affected by a particular policy or piece of legislation. We encourage anyone with experience or expertise of an issue under investigation by a select committee to share their views with the committee, with the full knowledge that their views have value and are welcome. If you think someone you know would have an interest in contributing to the inquiry, please pass this on to them.