New research commissioned by Staffordshire University ahead of the opening of its £30m Science Centre has revealed that science and technology industries are experiencing robust growth during the general economic downturn, with consequential growth in job numbers and graduate opportunities. The research, conducted by the Centre for Business and Economic Research, demonstrates that science and technology will generate 1 in 4 new jobs in the UK in the years to 2017 equivalent to 140,000 new STEM-related jobs by 2016/17.
The science and technology sectors have been one of the few star performers in the aftermath of the economic crisis, with the number of people employed now 1.5% higher than in 2008. This robust growth is expected to continue with annual STEM employment growth of 1.4% compared to 0.4% for the economy as a whole. By 2017 it is expected that STEM related occupations will account for 7.1% of UK jobs. STEM graduates can expect to find their entry into the job market significantly easier than graduates with non-STEM degrees.
The growth in science and technology jobs will also fuel accelerated wage growth in the years to 2017. Despite the economic malaise wages for science, technology and engineering jobs will grow more rapidly than in the 2008-11 period by 1%, 0.6% and 1.1% respectively. Welcoming the report, Paul Richards, Deputy Vice Chancellor of Staffordshire University, said: “This report is a valuable contribution the continuing debate about the future shape of the UK economy and the role that the partnership between higher educational institutions and the science and technology sectors can play in generating a sustained economic recovery.”
He continued: “The report clearly identifies that STEM graduates will play a vital role in fuelling economic growth and will enjoy greater job opportunities and prove more resilient to economic pressures than non-STEM graduates. The new Science Centre is testament to the University’s foresight to plan for the growth in science and technology related jobs and in responding to the need for skilled and qualified graduates.”
The report also highlights that specific regions will also benefit more than others from the science and technology boom. The big winner is likely to be the South East which currently has 8.7% of its workforce in science and technology related jobs. The East of England (7.4%), North West of England (6.4%), South West England (6.9%) and Scotland (6.5%) and West Midlands (5.7%) and Yorkshire (5.7%) and East Midlands (5.9%) make up the second tier science and technology regions with Wales (5.2%), the North East (5.8%) and Northern Ireland (5.1%) being the regions least likely to benefit from the science and technology boom.
Paul Richards added: “Higher educational institutions must invest in the correct infrastructure to ensure that industry has a pool of skilled STEM graduates from which to draw. The new building firmly establishes the University’s credentials as a teaching-led, vocational university designed to deliver the very best academic study which can be a key influence on the West Midlands’ economic growth.”
“Staffordshire University’s decision to invest in its new Science Centre is a positive reaction to the economic downturn, which will ensure that future generations have the STEM skills which high growth industries need.”
The CEBR report identifies that STEM graduates have proved resilient in the face of a tightening labour market with the graduate unemployment rate rising by only 0.6% to 8.4% during the financial crisis. In comparison, unemployment amongst non-STEM graduates has risen 0.9% to 9.8%, proving that STEM graduates have been better positioned during the downturn.
Whilst unemployment amongst graduates is forecast to rise, STEM graduates are forecast to fare better than most. In the future, unemployment for STEM graduates in the 2012/13 financial year is forecast to be 9.2% which compares well to a forecasted unemployment rate for non-STEM graduates of 10.8%.
He continued: “Staffordshire University’s decision to invest in its new Science Centre is a positive reaction to the economic downturn, which will ensure that future generations have the STEM skills which high growth industries need. The new building firmly establishes the University’s credentials as a teaching-led, vocational university designed to deliver the very best academic study which can be a key influence on the West Midlands’ economic growth.”