Last week, STEM day brought attention to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Manufacturing and it is important that we recognise the need to support these industries through education and opportunities.
The four areas of STEM are hugely valuable and high-growth sectors, with research from UK think tank Space Skills Alliance highlighting that the space industry specifically has a goal of achieving a global market share of 10% by 2030.
With the targets surrounding this in demand and influential areas set to bring huge economic growth, understanding the value and supporting these key areas is vital.
The value of STEM
“Not only does STEM bring in a vast amount of revenue, but plays a pivotal role in innovation, enabling new ideas and technologies to be brought to life to improve modern day society,” says Nadeem Gabbani, Founder of Exobotics. “For example, COVID-19 has proven just how important investment in STEM is with the urgent need to develop, roll out, and administer vaccines across the globe, whilst areas such as space had lesser considered roles to play through the likes of satellite telecommunications and navigation systems which were critical to the supply chain. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics are hugely beneficial, and exciting areas to support in research and development initiatives.”
The Innovation Strategy published by the Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) sets out plans for supporting innovation, but Gabbani wants this to be taken further through education and opportunities in STEM to continue to grow the UK’s efforts, which in turn will boost regional growth in these areas.
“Spaceport Cornwall, just weeks away from a historic launch from British soil, represents a prime example of the regional benefits that STEM can create,” Gabbani continues. “Through support and investment, business opportunities, job creation, and outstanding educational opportunity through institutions such as the University of Exeter and Falmouth University, Cornwall has created a thriving regional STEM culture, with a plethora of businesses supported by the Cornwall Space Cluster.”
Our future Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing innovators
For these ventures and advancements to be possible, younger generations must be invested in and educated in order to capitalise upon the opportunities these four disciplines will provide in the coming years. Gabbani sees continuing to level-up the curriculum and encouraging students towards STEM subjects is a vital part of the process.
“STEM subjects in education will serve as the platform from which future technical workers and industry leaders will be developed. These disciplines provide the intellectual foundation to produce technically and scientifically proficient scientists, inventors, and engineers, capable of filling highly skilled roles and leading innovation in the UK,” Gabbani says. “Acceptance rates have been on the rise over the last decade, with government research highlighting that subjects such as computer science have risen by almost 50% between 2011 and 2020. However, the skills shortage is still a widespread issue, with organisations struggling to attract talent for STEM roles due to a lack of available staff.
“The space industry currently provides the nation with around 42,000 jobs and research estimates this to grow by a further 30,000 over the next decade. In order to capitalise on the job creation STEM can provide, it is important that the younger generation are encouraged into education in STEM subjects in order to develop the skills and aptitude required to fill these roles.”
Many people have an aptitude for scientific thinking, possessing skills such as problem solving that go overlooked, with research highlighting that STEM jobs are seeing uneven progress in gender, racial, and ethnic diversity, with the space industry in particular being made up of less than 10% women.
“To ensure future success in STEM industries, untapped talent should be focused on, providing opportunities to those who are capable, but often overlooked, and providing them with an educational platform to solve the technical skills crisis,” says Gabbani.
The future of STEM
“STEM industries can offer great benefits, as the space industry has proven over the past few years, promoting job creation and enhancing productivity, all whilst contributing to growth and prosperity across the nation,” adds Gabbani. “Through support and funding, the UK has the potential to re-establish itself as a leader in STEM, key areas which will play vital roles in research, development, and innovation around the globe in the coming years.
“This requires not only support for the organisations that are innovating and creating new ideas and concepts, but investing in the next generation who can lead the next wave of technological and scientific advancements, whether it’s the latest developments in electric vehicles or missions to an unexplored area of space.”
Businesses, government, education providers, funders, and everything in between, must come together as a whole to support STEM and encourage education and career opportunities in these areas across the country.