The Sector Skills Council for science, engineering and manufacturing technologies is launching a Higher Education Sector Strategy Group to strengthen university-employer relationships.
The group was agreed at a meeting of higher education representatives at the House of Lords to discuss the issues faced by small employers working with Higher Education and employing a graduate.
Hosted by skills champion, Baroness Margaret Wall, and chaired by Jacqui Henderson CBE, strategic advisor to Semta, the event was attended by around 20 university deans, directors and vice-chancellors from England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Key issues the new group discussed were: employer engagement (particularly SME employers) with Higher Education; the changing landscape of Higher Education with a particular focus on funding and the impact this has on employers, employees and students; employability skills; workforce development.
Lynn Tomkins, operations director of Semta, said: “Graduates are a key part of tomorrow’s workforce, so it is vital that employers and educators are aligned and focussed on solving the challenges. We’re delighted with the positive responses from universities in seeking to support small employers.”
Stressing the importance for science, engineering and manufacturing to recruit new highly skilled employees and upskill the existing workforce, Tomkins mentioned Semta data revealing that around 96,000 engineers, scientists and technologists will be required between now and 2016 to replace retirees and to meet demand from growing industries like advanced manufacturing.
Tomkins continued: “In addition, it is estimated that over 300,000 of the current technical workforce is qualified below world class standards. So there is huge opportunity for universities and employers to better prepare students and existing staff to be more effective in the workplace.”
Semta has just won Employer Investment Fund investment to increase the number of SMEs that recruit a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate by improving employer-university links. So the new HE Sector Strategy Group, which will first meet in early 2012, is expected to be an integral part of the EIF workstream.