Science and medical careers most popular with school leavers
But 60% of students want more support for pursuing a STEM career
Science and medicine-related professions have come out on top in a new survey of UK students’ career goals, with science rated as the most popular subject in school.
The research was carried out by Roche-backed project GenerationeXt and involved 2,500 16-24 year-olds.
It found that 60% of students feel there is insufficient support for pursuing a career in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) industries.
One in every five young people surveyed said they suffer from a lack of confidence in their ability to achieve their career ambitions, with over a quarter of school children reporting they had been told they would not succeed in a science-related role.
Almost a third of students decided not to pursue a career in a STEM field as they thought it would be too complicated, while 22% said they did not feel clever enough or had not chosen the right core subjects early on.
Speaking at the GenerationeXt life science fair, Prof Alice Roberts, professor of public engagement in science at the University of Birmingham, said: “Careers in science and technology are so varied, so creative and offer so much potential to really make a difference to peoples’ lives.
“It’s a great shame if young people are turned off by misconceptions about what is really a gloriously diverse range of different subjects and disciplines, by negative stereotypes, and by ideas that science “isn’t for them.”
She added: “That’s why initiatives like GenerationeXt are so important - we need to blow some myths out of the water!”
The survey also revealed fears over high job market competition, with 80% of 17 year-olds worried about securing a job despite the growing demand for talent to fill the 40,000 STEM-related vacancies each year.
Over three-quarters of students surveyed said they are concerned about the impact of the current political and economic climate on their future careers, with post-Brexit uncertainty for the UK life sciences sector already beginning to drive prospective talent away.
Richard Erwin, general manager of Roche UK, said: “With heightened post-Brexit anxieties and the shortage of skills in the life sciences sector, it is even more critical that we support the next generation of home-grown talent to ensure that British science remains world class - the future of UK healthcare innovation depends on it.
“The industry has a duty to address the gap in STEM uptake, including the misconception that you need to have a particular set of skills to pursue a career in this industry.”
Roche established the GenerationeXt project to encourage the next generation of talent to embark on a career in the life science sector, and will provide resources for students, teachers and parents on the online GenerationeXt hub after today’s career fair.
Article by Rebecca Clifford