The £1.5 Billion a year STEM issue for UK businesses.

Anyone related to STEM will know the war on talent over the last 12-24 months is a very real thing…. And the data backs this up!

STEM Learning’s research, for instance, estimated that the issue is costing businesses £1.5 billion a year in recruitment, temporary staffing, inflated salaries and additional training costs.

Another key piece of research on this issue conducted by STEM Learning found that out of 400 HR directors and decision makers in businesses that rely on staff with STEM skills:

  • 7 out of 10 said they had found it difficult to hire staff with the required skills in the last year.
  • 9 out of 10 said that their recruitment of such positions is taking longer, with the process taking an average of 31 days longer than expected.
  • 48% are looking abroad to find the right skills.
  • There is a current shortfall of over 173,000 STEM workers – an average of 10 unfilled roles per business.

The UK is entering the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, a time of significant technological, economic and societal change, along with a Brexit outcome that remains uncertain, and severe funding challenges in schools.


Also, new STEM roles are expected to double in next 10 years so to think this issue is going to disappear or get easier would be wishful thinking based on the data.

With the above in mind I’m often left wondering…… what are organisations/ government doing to get ahead of this problem?


  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson has unveiled the new immigration route announced earlier this month on 11 September 2019 which will mean international graduates in any subject, including STEM, will be able to stay in the UK for two years to find work. International students make up half of all full-time post-graduate students in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects so this is a crucial move to help the STEM talent pipeline.
  • UK government is planning to invest over £400 million in mathematics, digital and technical education.
  • “Tech Swindon” Switch on to Swindon a local government project is launching in 2020 with its first ‘Tech Summit’ to help support the STEM community engage with Wiltshire. (we are proud member of the ‘Tech Swindon’ board trying to support the STEM community in Wiltshire)



Organisations face a difficult choice …The Now’ vs ‘The Future’.

Let me explain. A lot of the talent strategies that can solve the long terms STEM skills shortage for an organisation require time, money and patience.

These are 3 things most companies don’t have. Often, short term goals and deliverables will take priority and a quick fix to the issues takes president. (normally in the form of contract resource or inflated salaries)

However, to solve this issue for businesses they won’t be able to rely on government/schools. Organisations will also need their own strategy to start investing in a sustainable pipeline of talent NOW ….to make sure they can survive in the FUTURE.

For anyone interested in the benefits of ‘FUTURE’ focused strategies Jeff Bezos @ Amazon has a fascinating attitude towards ‘NOW’ vs ‘FUTURE’ with his executives. His executives are always working so far in the future Amazon has grown from a start up in 1994 to being briefly valued at $1 trillion in 2018!!!

“I ask everybody to not think in two-to-three-year time frames, but to think in five-to-seven-year time frames,” Bezos told an audience in Washington, D.C.

“When somebody … congratulates Amazon on a good quarter … I say thank you. But what I’m thinking to myself is … those quarterly results were actually pretty much fully baked about 3 years ago. Today I’m working on a quarter that is going to happen in 2020. Not next quarter. Next quarter for all practical purposes is done already and it has probably been done for a couple of years.”


C4S Search is STEM Talent Consultancy helping organisations battle the war on talent in this sector. Should you wish to discuss how C4S Search can support your STEM talent strategy with a range of different solutions and services please feel free to get in touch with or