Government’s efforts to improve STEM skills not successful, says NAO

Government’s efforts to improve STEM skills not successful, says NAO

The National Audit Office (NAO) has said that the Government’s efforts to improve STEM skills in the country have been far from successful.

A new report from NAO does, however, agree that some sort of progress has been made in boosting STEM skills and has asked departments to come out with a shared view of what they are trying to achieve and a coordinated plan for achieving it.

The auditing body said that the coordination across government has been historically lacking, thereby creating a risk that the overall approach is not cohesive. At the same time, individual initiatives designed to enhance STEM skills do not add up to a coherent programme of intervention, said NAO.

On the positive front, it said that various individual initiatives for improving take-up and provision of STEM education have made a positive impact.

National Audit Office head Amyas Morse said: “The government faces a complex challenge in encouraging the education pipeline to produce more people with the right STEM skills.

“Some initiatives are getting positive results but there is an urgent need for the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to coordinate plans and set out what they are trying to achieve.

“A more precise understanding of the challenge would allow the Departments to better target and prioritise their efforts to deliver the STEM skills the economy needs.”

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NAO said that the levels of participation have gone up in most areas of the skills pipeline.

It revealed that A Level entries in the subjects have moved up by about 3% since 2011-12. On the other side, there has been an increase by 7% in enrolments in full-time undergraduate STEM courses between 2011-12 and 2015-16. NAO’s report shows that there has been an 18% growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics apprenticeships.