People and Skills in STEM

13 September 2022

The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee conducted an inquiry into people and skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the UK during summer and autumn 2022. The inquiry considered whether the UK has a sufficiently skilled workforce to become a “science and technology superpower”, and what could be done to develop and retain skills in the UK workforce.

NFER’s response to the Committee focussed on teacher recruitment and retention for STEM subjects. Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, England’s schools were facing a growing challenge of recruiting and retaining sufficient numbers of teachers to maintain supply, and this was particularly the case for STEM subjects.

The other specific issue for teachers of STEM subjects is that there has been chronic under-recruitment and higher-than-average leaving rates, primarily due to STEM graduates having relatively financially attractive career options outside of teaching, compared to teachers of other subjects.

Taking the current set of policy measures aimed at supporting STEM teacher supply as a whole, NFER’s view is that the government’s current medium-term policy is insufficient to ensure adequate supply for physics, computing, chemistry and all science combined.

Our full response to the Committee can be found here: (PDF file)