ABPI warns of skills shortage in UK caused by lack of STEM grads and Brexit

pharmafile | January 30, 2019 | News story | Research and Development ABPI, UK, eomployment, skills, stem, work 

The UK is falling behind Europe and the rest of the world in regards to the number of students studying the STEM subjects that will be vital for the advancement and development of treatments and medical technologies in the future.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has warned that the UK’s science skills gap could lead to companies and highly skilled scientific roles moving abroad.

While the number of UK undergraduates studying STEM subjects has increased by 16% over the past 10 years (compared to a 13% increase across all subjects) the number of undergraduates studying STEM subjects increased by 52% in the EU and 63% in non-EU countries around the world.

Alongside the skills shortage, UK companies identified Brexit as the most critical threat to job growth in the UK.

The pharmaceutical industry currently employs 63,000 people in the UK, 24,000 of whom work in R&D. The number of people employed by the pharmaceutical industry in Britain has fallen in recent years having dropped from 70,000 in 2015.

Meanwhile the number of apprenticeships in the pharmaceutical industry has increased by 169% since 2013.

Sheuli Porkess, Deputy Chief Scientific Officer at the ABPI, commented: “UK science and academia are the envy of the world and we are vying to be Europe’s premier biotech cluster and second only to the US.  But we are seeing a decline in R&D investment.  If we don’t address the skills shortages our status as a world-leading R&D hub we may see even more research – and with it highly skilled jobs – move abroad.  This would be bad news for NHS patients and the UK economy.”  

Louis Goss

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