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Government joins chase for STEM students

Engineering will find itself competing with government to recruit numerate school leavers and graduates following an announcement by Prime Minister David Cameron that he is backing a push to find 17,500 more maths and physics teachers with a £67M bursary fund.

The government is launching a major push on maths, science and technology to equip more pupils with the skills needed to work and succeed in high-tech and science-based industries.

"If countries are going to win in the global race and children compete and get the best jobs, you need mathematicians and scientists – pure and simple. So today, we commit to deliver more maths and science teachers."

Thousands of maths and physics teachers will get specialist training to help raise the quality of teaching in schools and the first national college for digital skills and coding will be set up to train the digital innovators and technology experts of tomorrow.

The Prime Minister wants to ensure future generations are able to compete with their international counterparts for the best jobs and for the British workforce to have the right skills to compete in a global economy starting with raising the standard of maths, science and technology in schools and further education.

The government focus will include:

Prioritising maths and physics in schools with 17,500 maths and physics teachers to be trained over the next five years over and above current levels, with schemes to attract more postgraduates, researchers and career-changers, and extensive retraining for non-specialist teachers.

The scheme will cost £67M and will include a programme to offer school leavers a bursary to help pay for university, in return for a commitment to become a teacher when they graduate with a maths or physics degree. The idea is to retrain 15,000 existing teachers and recruit 2,500 new ones.

A new National College for Digital Skills will be up and running by 2015, working with industry and education providers to train the digital innovators of the future. The college will start working with students in London next year before establishing centres across the country with a focus on higher level technical training.

In schools, a new GCSE in computer science will be introduced to establish a national standard, covering the most up-to-date issues including writing code, designing programmes and ethical and legal impacts of digital technology.

Coding was introduced into the National Curriculum in September and 4 million pupils have already had their first computing lesson. Several new initiatives by leading companies and charities are also being announced today to help teachers bring the new curriculum to life.

The Prime Minister, David Cameron, said:

"There’s no secret to success in the modern world. If countries are going to win in the global race and children compete and get the best jobs, you need mathematicians and scientists – pure and simple. So today, we commit to deliver more maths and science teachers.

This is all part of our long-term economic plan for Britain – making sure our children have the skills they need to thrive and get on. And by sticking to it, we will lift our children horizons and pull our country up in the world.”