Higher education leaders have called on the new coalition Government to back HE institutions in their efforts to meet the needs of business and industry, as a new survey shows many employers fear a shortage of people with high level skills to fill their top jobs.

Responding to the findings of the CBI/EDI survey Professor Ruth Farwell, Chair of the higher education representative body GuildHE, urged newly-appointed ministers to lift restrictions on the number of students HE institutions can enrol to allow them to answer the growing demand for graduates.

But she warned that focussing largely or exclusively on encouraging more young people to study STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) would be counter-productive if it meant other disciplines that develop skills that are equally important to the British economy, such as the creative arts, are neglected.

Professor Farwell, who is also Vice-Chancellor of Buckinghamshire New University, said: “This survey shows that employers agree with us that providing opportunities for people to develop higher level skills will be vital for economic recovery and growth.

“But while we recognise the importance of encouraging more young people to study STEM subjects, as is highlighted by employers responding to the survey, we believe most graduates from all disciplines have the kind of skills and personal qualities employers are looking for. That is why, as the survey shows, 42 per cent of employers do not require graduate recruits to have studied a particular subject. STEM graduates do not by any means have a monopoly on analytical, problem solving, communication and interpersonal skills.

“The key message the Government should take from these survey findings is that Britain needs more graduates of every kind, and therefore it should be taking steps to ensure that everyone with the right qualifications has the opportunity to take up a place in higher education.”

For more information, please contact:

Anne Whitehouse
Head of Corporate Communications
Buckinghamshire New University
Tel: 01494 606249
Email: anne.whitehouse@bucks.ac.uk

Tony Tysome
Media FHE
Tel: 01629 650910
Email: tonytysome@mediafhe.com

Notes to editors

Findings of the CBI/EDI survey of employers are published today.

GuildHE members are among the most dynamic and fastest-growing institutions in higher education. For a list of GuildHE institutions, please click here