Across a number of business sectors there is a critical shortage of people with STEM skills and that is being seen as a barrier to the growth of the UK economy. Tony McDonough reports
More than 7,000 young people will get the opportunity to meet around 100 companies in Liverpool this week in a drive to encourage more young people to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).
Across a number of business sectors there is a critical shortage of people with STEM skills and that is being seen as a barrier to the growth of the UK economy.
Persuading more young people, and in particular girls, to consider engineering, scientific or technical careers is a challenge and the aim of the Big Bang Fair, being held at Exhibition Centre Liverpool on Tuesday, July 10, is to address that shortfall.
At a Women in Maritime seminar at the International Business Festival in Liverpool in June, Kirsty MacDonald, a business development executive at Liverpool John Moores University, said there were 87,000 graduate engineering opportunities in the UK but only 46,000 graduates.
She said: “Engineering contributes 26% of the UK’s entire GDP… there is still not enough understanding of the plethora of opportunities that are available in tech and engineering.”
And specifically addressing the shortfall of female engineers, she added: “If we can’t persuade girls to choose technical subjects at GCSE level then we have lost them.”
Liverpool-based entrepreneur Michelle Dow is the driving force behind the Big Bang Fair. Back in the 1990s she was one of the UK’s first female apprentice gas fitters.
She worked for British Gas 15 years before setting up in business in 2007. She is extremely passionate about plugging the skills gap. The aim of her company – All About STEM – is to work with businesses, the public sector and education to inspire young people to take up a STEM career.
Figures also show the demand for so-called ‘big data’ skills as well as engineering is set to increase significantly over the next few years – however, between 2012 and 2017 there was a 10% decrease in GCSE entries for science subjects.
Merseyside is ahead of the curve in reaching out to industry and the companies at the event compete with each other to come up with the most interesting/interactive exhibition space to attract the young people.