Graduate Student
A graduate student works in the Nanomedicine Lab at UCL's School of Pharmacy in LondonReuters

A leading UK business body has called on the government to slash tuition fees for some science, technology, and engineering and maths (Stem) courses.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents 240,000 employers, argued that the move would make Stem subjects more attractive and easier to access for youngsters.

The proposal comes as the CBI warns that the UK faces a "skills crunch", which could threaten the country's economic recovery.

"Growth and jobs in the future will depend on the UK having a workforce that can exploit new technologies and discoveries," said Katja Hall, CBI chief policy director.

"The growing skills vacuum is threatening the recovery, as demand from firms is outstripping supply.

"Highly-skilled workers are essential for our growth sectors and it will be those young people with science and maths who will go on to become the engineers and new tech entrepreneurs of tomorrow."

The business body also called on the government to introduce, among other things, new collaborative training solutions to progress apprenticeships and retraining to meet the pressing need for skilled technicians.

The news comes after a CBI/Pearson survey conducted last year, showed that more than four in ten firms (42%) faced difficulties recruiting individuals with Stem skills and knowledge.

Hall added: "There is a shameful gender gap in science and technology so we need to transform society's ideas of the choices women have in their careers.

"Employees with the right skills to work in areas like medicine, engineering and computer science also tend to have higher earnings on average than those who don't."