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Engineering suffers from lack of jobs not skills, says study

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9th Sep 2011
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Claims that there is a shortage of graduates with the engineering skills required to drive economic growth may be overstated, according to research from Birmingham University.

Researchers at the institution say that fewer than half of graduates who leave university with a degree in engineering are actually still working in the field six months later. Some 20% were in graduate jobs unrelated to their studies, while 24% worked in sectors that did not require a higher education qualification.   Last year, the CBI warned that insufficient numbers of students were studying the famed STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects even though they allegedly led to better job prospects and higher salaries. Surveys of engineering companies have also concluded there is a chronic shortage of people in the UK with the right engineering skills.    But the Birmingham researchers disputed such claims. They examined figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, which details the employment outcomes of university leavers six months after graduating.   Professor Emma Smith at Birmingham said: "These figures suggest it is not easy or automatic for qualified engineers to get related employment in the UK, despite the purported shortages. Perhaps, because of recent initiatives, there seem to be too many people studying science for the labour market to cope with."   She acknowledged that some graduates may not be of sufficiently high quality to be employed by the sector, but added that it was more likely that they were without relevant employment because the shortage thesis was wrong and there were simply no jobs available for all of them.

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