Today sees the publication of a new Emsi Burning Glass report commissioned by the Institute of Physics (IOP). The report sets out to evaluate the jobs market in the context of physics skills, focusing on:
- The scale of the physics-related job market
- How the use of physics skills varies across occupations, industries and regions
- The levels of employer demand for physics skills at all levels
Amongst the key findings from the report are the following:
Physics skills support nearly two million jobs across the UK and Ireland
Physics skills are crucial to the economy, underpinning productive industries across the UK and Ireland, with the highest concentration of jobs in Scotland (16% above the UK and Ireland average) and the fastest growth in jobs in Ireland (up by 45% from 2010-2020).
Demand for physics spans all skills levels
While high-skill roles are growing fastest, more than half (53%) of physics-demanding jobs do not require a degree, with a sizeable minority (46%) typically requiring intermediate-level qualifications such as A-levels, Highers, Leaving Certificates and apprenticeships.
There is significant unmet demand for physics skills
With nearly 9,000 high-duration vacancies in mid-2021, a substantial number of physics-demanding roles at any one time persist in being hard to fill. This is impacting employers’ ability to grow and innovate.
There is strong, sustained growth in demand for physics skills
Demand for physics skills is high, particularly outside the scientific sector. For example, a significant proportion of hard-to-fill vacancies are found in digital, and business and finance roles, and this is likely to exacerbate existing skills shortages in the coming years.
Action to bolster development of physics skills is needed now
If governments are to deliver on ambitions to build more innovative, productive and green economies, action is needed, including: addressing the shortages of specialist physics teachers; challenging the misconceptions about physics and the jobs it provides; ensuring the availability of a variety of physics education and training pathways; and incentivising employers to invest in employees’ upskilling and reskilling.
According to Tony McBride, Director of Policy and Public Affairs at the Institute of Physics:
“Physics skills are central to the new industrial landscape and offer routes to productive employment, and varied and rewarding careers for people in every part of the UK and Ireland. This report shows clearly that we need more young people to fulfil their potential by doing physics, no matter their background or where they live, we need to level up education by making sure everyone has access to a specialist physics teacher, and we need to skill up more physics-based workers.
We already know that a shortage of skills has put a brake on the innovation and R&D activities of physics-based businesses. Without investment in the teaching and development of physics skills, the workforce will not keep pace with the demands of transformative new technologies, jeopardising economic recovery and growth and stalling plans to make the UK and Ireland scientific and industrial superpowers. We must take every opportunity to put our economies on a strong footing to compete on the world stage.”
Duncan Brown, VP for Global Innovation at Emsi Burning Glass commented:
“Our report demonstrates that physics has a wide variety of applications in the workplace, moving well beyond its explicit role as a scientific discipline into many established and new applications, including major project construction, nuclear energy, transport manufacturing, shipbuilding, medical, engineering, R&D and much more. In addition, we show how physics-trained workers have a variety of transferable skills that give them a wide range of opportunities throughout the labour market.
The insights and analysis we provide demonstrate clearly that employer demand for physics skills is substantial and growing, yet it also shows that positions are hard to fill – particularly in finding the right mix between physics skills and the range of transferable skills which can bring out their value in the workplace. This means there are important education and training challenges ahead, if we are to see this demand for physics-related skills being met, which is a crucial part of the nation’s future economic growth.”
You can download a copy of the report by clicking on the image above, or visit the IoP website for more details.