As I have blogged recently, advanced economies are facing a shortage of skilled labour. This is partly the result of an aging workforce, but also results from decreasing enrollment in technical courses at the high school, vocational institute, community college and university levels. With the respect to the latter probelm, there appears to be signs of a change in the UK.
According to the BBC, in the UK applications for all university courses are up, but science and engineering courses are especially popular. Applications for physics courses at university are up by more than 17% over last year. Recently published statistics also show that in 2011 the the number of students studying A-level physics has increased by over 6%. This represents the fifth consecutive year that of increase. According to the Institute of Physics physics is among the top ten most popular subjects for the first time since 2002.
But in the last decade enrollment in mathematics and science has been down significantly in the UK. A comparison of 24 countries showed that England, Wales, and Northern Ireland were the only ones in which fewer than 20% of students study mathematics post-16. 40% of companies are reported as saying that they are having difficulty recruiting people with science, technology, engineering and maths skills.