IOP calls for investment in physics skills to support economic recovery

An Institute of Physics commissioned report has revealed that as we enter a new economic era post-Covid and post-Brexit, recovery and growth in the UK and Ireland economies will be severely limited without greater investment in the development of physics skills.

The report reveals that physics skills already support nearly 2 million or 1 in 20 jobs across the UK and Ireland, and employer demand is strong and growing. Yet the IOP says that without concerted action the existing shortfall in physics skills is only set to worsen, limiting the extent to which the two countries can take advantage of new economic and technological developments. It will also limit the role they can play in the transition to a net-zero world and new green economies.

The report concludes that because of its crucial role in driving innovation, “strengthening the provision of physics is central to the ambitions to improve economic growth, prosperity and living standards”.

The IOP is calling for action by:

  • Addressing shortages of specialist physics teachers 
  • Challenging misconceptions about physics and the jobs it provides access to
  •  Ensuring availability of a variety of physics education and training pathways 
  • Incentivising employers to invest in employees’ upskilling and reskilling 
  • Ensuring interventions aimed at strengthening provision of physics skills move beyond the level of ‘STEM skills’, given the distinct labour market demand for physics

Tony McBride, IOP Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said: “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.” 


The IOP asked labour market analytics firm Emsi Burning Glass to evaluate the scale of the physics-related job market, how physics skills are used across occupations, industries and regions, and levels of demand for physics skills at all levels.


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