Dr Philip Wright, ABPI Director of Science and Technology, said: "We welcome the Government's intention to drive science and innovation in the UK - but it will be impossible without a strong supply of scientists and engineers.
"Government must move away from an arbitrary 50 per cent target for participation in higher education and ensure undergraduate science courses are funded effectively.
"Pharmaceutical companies are playing their role in attracting bright students into science - Government must also rise to the challenge."
To help reverse the decline in students taking science-based A-levels and to encourage more students towards science, maths and technology, as well as on to higher education, the pharmaceutical industry is engaged in activities so that youngsters learn about the way business enterprises operate, together with working roles and conditions, and rights and responsibilities in the workplace.
The pharmaceutical industry's wide-ranging programme covers financial assistance for bids from schools to gain specialist status to identifying managers to become "scientist in residence" at particular schools; from supporting the Government's Science and Engineering Ambassadors Scheme to running science masterclasses; from sponsorships and awards to visits and careers fairs.
Work-related learning within the national curriculum will be implemented in September. It is defined as planned activity that uses work as a context for learning and encompasses a broad range of activities allowing students to experience working life.
ABPI backs this development as it will ensure that the degree of support being provided by other sectors of industry - and that already established in the pharmaceutical industry - operate to uniformly high standards.
Among the numerous projects being run by pharmaceutical companies are:
Novartis invites A-level students into the laboratories to work with researchers and, for 9 to 11-year-olds the company runs a "Molecules are Fun" event every year as part of community partnership.
GSK and other companies provide Nuffield bursary placements which enable students to spend four to six weeks at R&D sites working on specially designed scientific projects.
Cambridge Antibody Technology hosts events for sixth formers interested in pursuing a scientific career.
Eli Lilly hosts similar events and has provided financial support for bids from six Basingstoke schools to gain specialist status. This includes a senior manager acting as "scientist in residence" for one of these schools.
For further information, please contact: ABPI Press Office 020 7747 1410