Shortfall in Scientists could leave UK in Science Black Hole

Shortfall in Scientists could leave UK in Science Black Hole

The UK is awash with pioneers when it comes to cutting edge science, with no fewer than 10 Nobel Laureate winners over the past 10 years alone. Yet, the UK is facing a major black hole in science, running the risk of falling behind the rest of the world unless the matter is addressed.

A new study by Roche,  a leader in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics which employs more than 90,000 people globally, looks at the reasons why students are turning their backs on science.  The report published today reveals that of 2,000 teenagers aged 14 to 18, three quarters (77%) said they enjoy science classes, yet only 1 in 20 expressed interest in jobs in the field of science, such as medicine, research and pharmaceuticals.  The study also found that teens from higher household income families (£125k+) are almost four times as likely to pursue a career in science than those from the lowest household income families (under £15k). 

Despite science proving popular at GCSE level, with 4 in 5 (79%) students enjoying the topic, when it comes to choosing options for A Levels, the number of teens interested in the subject for sixth form drops by over half, with a quarter (25%) saying they “don’t feel smart enough” to pursue a career in the field. While science is liked at school, enjoyment is not enough to inspire teens to consider a potential career in the discipline.

The study found that while three quarters (75%) of children say that science is “fun”, that interest drops into a black hole when it comes to turning that enjoyment into a career choice – even though 76% of children believe that studying the subject would lead to great job opportunities.

The reasons for this huge fall in interest seems to be complex. A quarter of kids say they feel they are not bright enough to pursue a career in science. And a third (30%) say there are not even going to university because they can’t afford it and it’s not worth the debt. 

Claire Jarvis, Pharmacist and Pipeline Lead at Roche UK said: “The UK’s position as a world leader in science innovation is at risk if the field cannot attract new talent from our schools and universities.  Science underpins some of the greatest developments and discoveries in history, from penicillin to putting mankind on the moon.   

“I’m privileged to work in a fulfilling and rewarding sector which has the potential to find a cure for cancer or develop medicines which can change people’s lives.  It’s critical that our next generation is inspired in the right way so they can make a huge change in the world.”

Roche is inspiring the next generation of Scientists with its GenerationeXt initiative - a programme of activity that aims to inspire and motivate students to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM). Through a series of interactive workshops and classes, the programme aims to show the next generation how exciting and rewarding a career in STEM can be whilst giving them the potential to change the world.  

 

 

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