Dianah and I had the pleasure last week of attending the enei’s half day event- ‘STEM –a roadmap to success.’ The inspiring line up of speakers emphasised in different ways the D & I imperative of the future of STEM in the UK and internationally.
Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of Engineering UK, spelt this message out with some compelling statistics from Engineering UK’s (2016) research with Warwick’s Working Futures which has found that 182,000 people with engineering skills are needed each year up to 2022 to fill current demand and if this demand was able to be filled this would create an additional £27 billion per year from 2022 to the UK economy. However, we need to double the number of graduates and apprentices entering the engineering industry – which is clearly no mean feat.
Reassuringly, progress is being made by lots of professional bodies and employers passionate about bringing about change. Some examples of these from the conference include the Careers & Enterprise Company, Aimia, Cobham, HS2, EY, Santander, National STEM Learning Centre and Network and more. All of whom are looking to strengthen the connection and fit between education and employment and spark interest in the area of STEM amongst diverse pupils throughout the UK.
The last word though on inspiration has to go to Professor Becky Parker, a professor in Physics and Director of the Institute for Research in Schools. The mission of the Institute is to let young people contribute to research not at some point in the future but now. The answer is not in a textbook and there is so much more to discover through experimentation and real research. The Institute gives pupils the opportunity to be involved in projects varying from synthetic biology to wind turbines. I have to say, I wish my Science teacher at school had been more like Professor Parker – instead my whole class was banned for a year from doing any experiments in chemistry due to one or two people misbehaving. The result of this of course meant hardly any pupils going on to study chemistry at A level and follow scientific careers.
As a parent, the conference has had the effect on me of wanting to inspire my own two young daughters around the possibilities of the STEM area and as an inclusive talent professionals, it has inspired myself and Dianah to continue to help and promote the importance of D & I to the future of STEM.
Engineering UK (2016) Engineering UK 2016 The state of engineering. London: Engineering UK.