Business and education leaders face capital’s STEM shortages

  • By Jourdan Wong-Mu...

London’s business and education leaders are joining forces to tackle the capital’s urgent skills shortage in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries at the London STEM conference, organised by London Councils.
London needs more people with STEM skills. Research indicates that the professional, real estate, scientific and technical sectors alone are projected to generate 17,000 new jobs per year in the capital. London’s tech sector continues to propel the UK’s digital economy, with the capital’s tech firms raising £2.45 billion of investment. However there are 48,000 vacancies that London employers find hard to fill because of lack of skills. Gender diversity remains an in issue for the sector too, despite 51 per cent of London’s population being female only 17 per cent of tech roles are filled by women.
Taking place at the Wellcome Collection, the London STEM conference will spark discussion on inspiring and engaging young Londoners, enhancing existing STEM jobs and training opportunities as well as building a coalition between the sectors to encourage innovation in London education and employment.  
The STEM skills shortage in industries such as computing, life sciences and engineering is a big concern to London boroughs, schools and the London business community alike, given the anticipated challenges facing the capital as a result of general shifts in the labour market and as Britain negotiates its future with the EU. 
Speakers at the event include Cllr Georgia Gould, London Councils’ Executive member for Skills and Employment; Dame Sally Morgan; Amanda Timberg, Head of Talent and Outreach Programs, EMEA, Google;Jacqui Hall, Vice President Learning and Standards at Medimmune; and representatives from the National STEM Learning Centre, Women in Science and Engineering and other industry leaders. 
Cllr Georgia Gould, London Councils’ executive member for Skills and Employment, said:

“London is home to thousands of talented young people yet faces an unprecedented STEM skills challenge. Inequality remains an issue, with women still underrepresented in STEM industries and 37 per cent of London children growing up in poverty who have limited access to these fields. We must show leadership on this issue by improving access to STEM opportunities and promoting diversity.
“The London STEM conference will bring together experts to develop innovative solutions to address this challenge through closer working between education providers and businesses.
“We must all redouble our efforts to address London’s STEM skills gap or risk not achieving our full potential as a modern capital city. At the heart of this is encouraging all young people to be ambitious about their futures by developing the skills to thrive in the emerging digital age."

Jacqui Hall, Vice President Scientific Learning, Medimmune, said: 

“At AstraZeneca and MedImmune we are acutely conscious of the need to nurture the capabilities and skills that our UK science-based workforce requires, and to ensure clear pathways into science roles for young people. 
“Developing the skills of the future STEM workforce is a major focus for science led companies in the UK such as ours. Although many companies have established STEM programmes, we need to collaborate more and expand our collective STEM work to ensure we future-proof our sector.” 

Amanda Timberg, Head of Talent and Outreach Programs, EMEA, Google , said:

"STEM education at school and university has never been more crucial in our ever advancing digital world. At Google, we are committed to supporting the development of STEM skills across the UK via programmes such as the Google Digital Garage which aims to up-skill anyone who is keen to learn new digital skills to support their future. The UK produces some of the best engineering talent in the world and we're pleased to be part of the London STEM Conference to support budding talent.

"On a personal level, having sat on the Camden STEAM (STEM and Arts) Commission, it’s great to see the continued work to integrate the curriculum in schools and engage widely with businesses."


The London STEM conference takes place at the Wellcome Collection on Tuesday 27 November 2018, from 9:30am to 3:30pm.  
A survey conducted by London Councils and the LCCI found that almost a quarter (23 per cent) of all vacancies in London are due to a lack of applicants with the right skills, while almost half of firms (42 per cent) are not confident they will be able to recruit people with the higher-level skills their organisation needs over the next five years. 
Recent research by STEM Learning found that 89 per cent of STEM businesses, in particular, struggle to recruit, with a shortfall of 173,000 skilled workers nationally 
Figures from Tech Nation suggest UK tech companies currently employ 318,480 people in digital jobs, but job search engine Adzuna figures state there are 48,297 technology vacancies in London alone. 
While 51 per cent of London’s population is female, only 17 per cent of tech roles in London are filled by women 
GLA Employment Projections London’s tech sector continues to fuel the growth of the UK’s digital economy, with the capital’s tech firms raising a record £2.45 billion and accounting for around 80 per cent of all UK venture capital tech funding in 2017.  UK and London remain the favourite destination in Europe for tech investors. UK firms attracted almost four times more funding in 2017 than Germany (£694 million) and more than France, Ireland and Sweden combined (source London and Partners)