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Teachers desperately need support from Britain’s businesses to close the STEM skills gap

  • Majority of students surveyed said their post-school choices are influenced by teachers
  • Teachers do not feel well-enough informed about STEM careers
  • Male teachers more likely to see STEM careers as better suited to boys than girls
  • Business should do more to support teachers with information so that students can benefit from their advice

As students across Britain await their exam results, thousands could be missing out on pursuing careers in Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths (STEM) because teachers do not feel they have enough knowledge of careers within these sectors, according to new research released today by British Gas owner Centrica, Britain’s largest energy and services company.

According to the independent national survey*, nine in ten students said they are influenced by teachers when it comes to deciding what to do after leaving school. However, nearly a third (30%) of teachers do not feel adequately informed about all the different options that are available to students, with almost a quarter (23%) confessing they do not feel confident in their understanding of careers in STEM despite the widely reported STEM skills shortage.

With some teachers not feeling well-versed to guide students down the STEM path, it is not surprising that more than a third (33%) of students surveyed feel under-informed about STEM careers.

The research highlights a gender gap around how STEM careers are perceived. Nearly a third of male teachers (29%) said that STEM careers are more for boys than girls, compared to 16% of female teachers. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of all teachers surveyed (23%) do not feel confident or do not know if job opportunities exist for girls going into STEM careers.

A gender gap is also prevalent among students. The survey reveals that more than a quarter of girls (27%) said that STEM careers are not for them, versus 14% of boys. When asked, nearly half of all students surveyed could not think of any female role models in STEM.

The route into a STEM career is also seen as a challenge with two-thirds (66%) of students believing it is difficult to get into and requiring high academic achievement. The majority of teachers surveyed also believe this to be the case, despite a number of routes offered into a STEM career through apprenticeships.

Teachers say business should be doing more to close the knowledge gap. More than two-thirds of teachers said they would like more information, training and guidance from business about STEM careers. Half of teachers surveyed specifically requested that businesses come into schools to give careers talks.

Catherine O’Kelly, Industry Development Director at British Gas, commented on the survey findings: “There’s a clear role and need for business to provide more support so that both teachers and students have a better understanding of the exciting options that are available through STEM careers. 

“Innovation and technology are at the heart of our business and is part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, so it’s right that we encourage students, especially young women who are less confident about pursuing STEM careers, to explore the varied routes into the profession which range from apprenticeships to degrees, and are open to all.”    

Centrica has a number of free online resources for KS2 and KS3 teachers to use in and out of the classroom to improve understanding of STEM subjects, which are linked to the national curriculum. British Gas engineers also visit schools to talk more broadly about STEM and their careers.

Notes to editors

*Methodology

The research was undertaken by Atomik Research on behalf of Centrica between 11th-14th July 2017, on a sample of 1,401 UK secondary school teachers and 1,063 UK students aged 14-18 in accordance with MRS guidelines and regulations.

For more information contact:

Bieneosa Ebite
Senior PR Manager
British Gas
01784 84 3000
bieneosa.ebite@britishgas.co.uk

British Gas is Britain’s leading energy and services company, serving more than 10 million homes and over 400,000 businesses across the country. More than 8,000 highly-trained engineers guarantee the highest quality of service for our residential and business customers. We also provide a range of innovative offers and services including connected home Hive™ products, smart meters, and the online tradesman service, Local Heroes.


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