However, the reality is, despite an increased focus on STEM education, many STEM graduates are still unemployed six months after graduating, according to a recent CIPD report.
But, how can employers ensure talented STEM graduates, who are essential to the labour market, are developing the essential employability skills?
Speaking to HR Grapevine, Dr David Docherty, CEO of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB), and Chairman of Placer, explains: “It is vital that we urgently improve work experience opportunities for all graduates, particularly those in STEM, to support young people as they move from education into the workplace. Students need to be gaining work-ready skills concurrently with academic study, enabling them to apply the knowledge gained in education, to the workplace. One critical part of the solution is improved access to quality work experience for undergraduates so that talented STEM students can enter the labour market more quickly.
“Not only is this issue important for students and universities but for employers too. Offering quality work experience opportunities means STEM companies can create lasting relationships to help fill the next generation of entry-level jobs. It is a cost-effective way to build a talent pool of young people who businesses can ensure develop the skills and experience required to thrive in STEM industries.
“On graduation, students who undertake work experience will have both knowledge of company culture, and the confidence in their skills, to ensure they are prepared to join organisations workplace-ready with fresh, innovative ideas.”
In addition, research from Centrica found that more than a third (33%) of students surveyed feel under-informed about STEM careers, and when asked, nearly half of all students surveyed could not name one female role model in STEM – meaning that this issue needs to be tackled by both schools and organisations.
Paul Gilliam, HR Director – UK & Ireland at L’Oréal, explains how they have proactively encouraged those looking to enter into science professions. “We believe fostering female scientists of the future starts much earlier in life, which is why, to mark the tenth anniversary of For Women in Science, we have linked with the Inspiring the Future programme, run by UK charity Education & Employers, to inspire the next generation of scientists by encouraging both boys and girls to take an interest in science at primary school age,” he says.
“Companies have a responsibility to give back to the community and we truly believe that by encouraging more scientists into schools and opening children’s eyes to the range of careers that science leads to, we can help make scientific jobs feel both exciting and attainable and ultimately achieve a better gender balance in science.”
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