About the reviews
The reviews are a direct response to the Government’s science and innovation strategy.
They aimed to explore some of the issues around the employment outcomes of graduates from STEM disciplines.
The reviews have presented the Government with a robust picture of:
- the current provision of STEM and computer sciences graduates
- their associated employment outcomes
- where further work might be needed to explore concerns in greater detail.
Key findings and recommendations
Both reviews found that:
- Employers are looking for ‘work-ready’ graduates who can apply their academic studies and abilities in a commercial or work context. Work experience is invaluable, but not all employers want the same things, or are willing (and sufficiently resourced) to mould and train staff.
- Industry is changing at a rapid rate. This presents a dilemma for universities and colleges if they try to keep up with industry demands.
- Graduates need to upskill and adapt to a changing jobs market. Their degree will only get them so far in a career that may span 50 years.
- Careers advice needs to be tailored to each STEM subject, and students need to learn about career options early in their studies.
- Industry and higher education need to engage collaboratively in curriculum design, in assessment and accreditation, and in providing work experience opportunities and careers advice.
- The value of degree accreditation systems varies by STEM discipline. Some have established, respected systems, while others are still developing or are yet to be recognised and valued outside higher education.
The recommendations from both reviews aim to highlight where action is needed to address both broad and STEM discipline-specific issues.
The reports identify relevant stakeholders that the reviews feel would be best placed to take forward work.
This includes convening groups of organisations or PSRBs to investigate particular disciplines to understand the complex picture of graduate employment.
The reports will also be considered by Government, and by HEFCE to inform its own work on horizon scanning and in collaboration with the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) on the future of data collection.
Scope of the reviews
Both reviews have considered the skills requirements of employers and whether course accreditation plays a role in the employment outcomes of graduates.
Across many of the STEM disciplines, professional accreditation systems have an important role to play in setting standards and supporting the development of a highly skilled workforce.
In many cases they claim to ensure that higher education courses equip individuals with the high-quality and relevant skills that provide industry with the employees it needs to meet the demands of a modern economy.
Evidence gathering for both reviews included:
- extensive analysis of data from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) and Longitudinal DLHE surveys to identify STEM disciplines of concern and to understand the employment picture for computer sciences graduates
- analysis of responses to two stakeholder surveys which sought the views of higher education providers, professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs), industry and other organisations with an interest in STEM provision and graduate employment outcomes
- a series of consultation events, including roundtables, discussion groups and focus groups to consider some of the issues highlighted in the surveys and arising from our data analysis consulting PSRBs and representative organisations in relation to the employment outcomes of STEM disciplines where the picture was unclear.