Regions with lowest uptake are 13% behind highest, Buckinghamshire Thames Valley, ‘Cold spots’ report from The Careers & Enterprise Company identifies inconsistencies in careers and enterprise provision across England. Lack of uptake threatens to further worsen current STEM workers crisis.

The Careers & Enterprise Company unveils latest region to join its Enterprise Adviser network, helping inspire young people by connecting with businesses

The ‘cold spots’ report from The Careers & Enterprise Company has revealed the areas across England with the lowest uptake of A-Level STEM subjects by young people[i] <#_edn1> .

The data identifies the North East, East of England, South East, and parts of North West as having the lowest take-up of A-level STEM subjects. Specifically, Humber, Northamptonshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire have 13% lower participation in STEM than Buckinghamshire Thames Valley, where 39% of all A-levels taken are STEM.

Take up of STEM subjects is critical to the future of the UK economy because these skills are vital to so many businesses. The number of positions left vacant because of a shortage of suitable talent has risen by 130% since 2011[ii] <#_edn2>  with 53% of businesses in the engineering sector expecting difficulty in recruiting STEM-skilled staff in the next three years[iii] <#_edn3> .

Recent research from the Your Life campaign and CBI[iv] <#_edn4>  suggests that interest levels in STEM subjects dip in secondary school years, with engagement in Maths and Science declining by 74% among girls and 56% among boys during this time. It concluded that one of the reasons young people opt against taking STEM subjects at A-level is due to a lack of understanding of how these skills translate into inspiring career opportunities.

To address this issue, The Careers & Enterprise Company has created the Enterprise Adviser (EA) network which will span the country, and today announces its Coast to Capital region launch, covering Brighton up to London. The EA network will bring together senior business volunteers and schools to inspire young people about their future careers and the skills needed to realise the opportunities ahead. Its ambition is to give every school in the country its own Adviser to galvanise local programmes and employers, and make it simpler for them to engage with schools. They are supported by Enterprise Coordinators who work with clusters of 20 schools to give them access to the best local employers and programmes, such as inspirational speakers and CV workshops.

Claudia Harris, CEO of the Careers & Enterprise Company, comments: “Our report shows there is inconsistency in the take up of STEM subjects with lasting implications for the health and growth of the economy. The country is facing a shortfall in the number of STEM workers available to fill vacancies, and with fewer young people taking up STEM subjects in school, this shortage is set to worsen. We need to inspire young people to pursue STEM, and this can only be achieved by improving the connection between employers and schools and colleges. Our Enterprise Adviser network is set up for this precise reason – to create encounters that will inspire young people about future careers and the possibilities that are unlocked by taking STEM subjects.”

The Careers & Enterprise Company exists to tackle the dual crisis of youth unemployment and the skills shortage by ensuring young people are inspired, informed and have a plan to enter work and fulfil their potential. It has been founded to take an umbrella view of the landscape of careers and enterprise to support programmes that work and ensure consistent coverage across the country.