The queen of the UK data industry Edwina Dunn says that plans to increase the amount of money UK firms must pay to hire tech talent from overseas will make it even more crucial that schools promote the right subjects to youngsters to address the skills crisis.
Continuing her rallying cry for science, technology, engineering and maths (Stem), Dunn has long demanded a rethink in schools amid claims that other nations are already ahead of the game.
According to research conducted by the Your Life campaign – a private sector sponsored campaign for promoting maths and physics at A Level, which Dunn chairs – 42% of girls are opting for other subjects in sixth-form because they think they will get better grades, versus 33% of boys. A quarter of girls also say maths and physics are “too hard”, despite outperforming boys in physics GCSE for the past five years.
Speaking exclusively to Decision Marketing, Dunn said: “At Your Life, we believe that measuring schools by grades alone is already hampering the supply of the right skills for jobs of the future. We are petitioning to promote a new measure (KPI) which is all about the best subjects for jobs of the future. Which schools deliver those? Are there enough? Of course the answer is no. But you get what you measure, right?
“I am also worried that we need our UK workforce with the right skills – the ones needed for jobs of the future. If we dis-incentivise non-EU workers, then we are even more dependent on steering UK employees to the right skills.”
Northern digital trade association Manchester Digital has already warned that UK tech businesses will suffer as a result of changes to immigration laws.
The new laws, which came into effect in April, require large businesses to pay a new immigration skills charge of £1,000 per year, per employee, to employ overseas workers from outside of the EU. Small businesses and charitable employers will be required to pay £364 annually.
Under the Conservative manifesto, this will double to £2,000 a year.
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