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Science, Mathematics and Statistics

The Job Market



  • Science is important for jobs and wealth creation. The chemical industry (including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, paints, plastics and other materials), for instance, is one of the largest manufacturing industries in the UK. According to UK Trade & Investment, exports are worth well over £40 billion.

  • The UK has an international reputation for research and development e.g. medical biotechnology and industrial biotechnology - and in view of the growing competition from India, China, Singapore and other countries the government wants to keep it that way.  

  • At the end of 2011, the government launched a 'strategy for UK life sciences'. One of the aims is to encourage scientists to stay in the UK by offering them financial and other support. Recently a top scientist suggested science graduates should think about going abroad where funding might be more readily available.

  • Some work areas are extremely competitive. Forensic science, for instance, has become so popular that only a small percentage of forensic science graduates will find a related job. Ecology and zoology are other competitive areas.

  • Science jobs are available throughout the UK but there are clusters of specific employers - East Midlands has pharmaceutical, chemical and polymer employers, for instance, and the North West of England has clusters of chemical and bioscience employers.  Increasingly, science employers have situated themselves close to similar employers in science 'parks' - sometimes these are linked to universities.  

  • The UK has the second highest number of top research universities, after the USA. Particular strengths are agricultural and biological science and environmental science.

  • There are many small businesses in science but most scientists work for large companies (around 10% of companies have at least 250 staff) 

  • Science and maths teachers are in short supply - the government is offering £20,000 scholarships for the best and most enthusiastic physics graduates who want to become teachers

  • Mathematicians can be employed in practically any sector - anything from education, finance and engineering, to architecture, political research and defence.

  • There are opportunities for operational researchers throughout the UK, although most employers are based in large cities.  Employers are often from the public sector, including government departments and the NHS.

  • The main employers for statisticians are government departments and the pharmaceutical industry.  There are also opportunities to work abroad, such as with Eurostat (part of the European Commission).  Various government departments, however, have had a recruitment freeze for the last year or so.