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Cutting tuition fees 'could fill skills vacuum', says CBI

12 Mar 2014

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has called on the Government to cut tuition fees for  science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects, in a bid to fill the UK 'skills vacuum'.

According to the business group, key areas of the UK economy are encountering problems due to a lack of skilled workers, with a recent survey suggesting that last year 42% of businesses had difficulty finding individuals with the necessary skill sets.

A new report from the CBI, entitled 'Engineering our Future', warns that failure to encourage students to take STEM subjects and to provide support to those seeking a career in related fields could have a negative impact on the UK economy.

The organisation is also calling for improvements to apprenticeships and retraining programmes for existing workers, as well as increased support for women looking to pursue STEM subjects.

Commenting on the report, Katja Hall of the CBI said, 'The growing skills vacuum is threatening the recovery, as demand from firms is outstripping supply'.

'Highly-skilled workers are essential for our growth sectors and it will be those young people with science and maths who will go on to become the engineers and new tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow.'

'The Government must explore if it is possible to reduce the costs of some of these courses and create a one-year cross-over qualification at 18 for those who turned away from science and maths after GCSEs, but now want to take a related degree,' she added.