New report shows shortage of science graduates theory does not add up

Majority of science graduates do not work in highly skilled science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) occupations at any time in their careers, according to Leicester academic

A new study from our University has debunked the argument that there is a shortage of science graduates.

The study in collaboration with the University of Warwick and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, finds that the majority of science graduates choose not to – or are unable to - work in highly skilled science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) occupations at any time in their careers.

Concerns about shortfalls of suitably qualified STEM graduates have been regularly raised for at least the last 70 years and have resulted in numerous, often expensive, national initiatives to encourage more young people to study the sciences at school and at university.

The research, conducted by Professor Emma Smith of the University of Warwick and Dr Patrick White of the University of Leicester, revealed that only a minority of science graduates ever work in STEM occupations at any time in their careers.

Dr Patrick White (pictured), of the School of Media, Communication and Sociology, said: “We found STEM graduates were more likely to work in teaching and management than in key ‘shortage areas’ such as science, engineering and ICT. Unlike in areas such as education and health, many workers in the science sector moved out of highly skilled STEM jobs as their careers progressed and there was no evidence of older workers moving into STEM careers later in life.”

The study used administrative and survey data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), the Annual Population Survey (APS), the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70) and National Child Development Study (NCDS) to examine the career destinations of thousands of graduates shortly after they graduate and later in their lives.

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