Education secretary Nicky Morgan has warned young people that choosing to study arts subjects at school could “hold them back for the rest of their lives”.
Speaking at the launch of a campaign to promote science, technology, engineering and maths – the STEM subjects – Morgan said the idea that choosing arts or humanities subjects can keep pupils’ career choices open “couldn’t be further from the truth”.
In her speech she said young people used to be told that STEM subjects led to specific career paths, such as medicine or engineering.
She continued: “But if you wanted to do something different, or even if you didn’t know what you wanted to do…then the arts and humanities were what you chose. Because they were useful – we were told – for all kinds of jobs.
“Of course now we know that couldn’t be further from the truth, that the subjects that keep young people’s options open and unlock doors to all sorts of careers are the STEM subjects.”
Morgan was supporting the Your Life campaign, which aims to increase the number of students studying maths and physics at A level by 50% within three years.
She also described maths as “the subject that employers value most” and claimed that pupils who study maths to A level will earn 10% more over their lifetime.
“These figures show us that too many young people are making choices aged 15 which will hold them back for the rest of their lives,” she added.