UK workers more likely to lack confidence in STEM skills

Posted on 12 Dec 2017 by Jonny Williamson

Two out of three UK workers lack confidence in their STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills, a study has shown.

Two out of three UK workers lack confidence in their STEM skills – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The analysis, conducted by PwC, is following the launch of the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy, which pledged a £406m funding boost for STEM skills.

More than 10,000 people across the UK, Germany, China, India and the US took part in the survey, including around 2,000 from the UK, undertaken as part of PwC’s Workforce of the Future study.

The report found that 33% of UK workers agree or strongly agree they possess STEM skills compared to 74% in India, 59% in China, 55% in the US and 44% in Germany. The average across the surveyed countries was 53%.

Confidence is slightly higher among UK millennials (people born between 1981 and 1996 and also known as Generation Y), with 40% believing they possess STEM skills.

The figure falls to 31% for those in Generation X (born between 1966 – 1980), dropping to 29% among baby boomers (1947-1965).

Nearly seven out of 10 UK millennials (68%) are confident they possess digital skills, although at 61% the overall figure for the UK is below the 69% global average. 83% of those surveyed from the UK say they possess problem solving skills against a global average of 85%.

Entire 64% of those surveyed from Generation Y are confident they possess creativity and innovation skills with the figure dropping to 59% across all generations. This falls well below the 74% global average with confidence among workers in India (88%) and the US (77%) particularly high.

PwC’s Peter Brown commented: “It’s encouraging that confidence in STEM skills is higher among millennials than older generations. Given the comparative overall lack of confidence within the UK, the recent focus on STEM funding and technology in general is hugely welcome. Future prosperity will be driven by a highly-skilled, flexible and innovative workforce.

“The need for investment in skills has rightly been recognised and now government, business and education must work together to deliver the skills and experience for the future.”

The study also found that more than half (56%) of UK respondents believe it is their own responsibility to update their skills rather than their employers – some way below the global average of 74%. Workers from India (88%) and the US (79%) were most likely to take personal responsibility