Coordinated by STEM Sussex

West Sussex faces science skills shortages

Date: February 28, 2017

West Sussex faces science skills shortages

Coastal West Sussex faces a labour shortage in sectors that depend on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills, according to Professor Clive Behagg, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Chichester and chair of the Sussex Learning Network.

Speaking at the launch of the second Coastal STEMfest, at Ricardo’s Centenary Centre, Shoreham, Prof Behagg said that STEM skills were the future of a coastal economy that currently experienced low wages, low-value jobs, low reliance on higher skills and the knowledge economy and a low participation rate in higher education.

“We have universities and further education colleges and we have the potential to develop high-value manufacturing through existing small and medium-size enterprises,” he said. “If there is one feature that all creative clusters share it is their reliance on creative talent, often highly skilled and supplied by universities.

“We face particular shortages in sectors that depend on STEM skills. We must ensure the higher education sector is able to meet this need.”

One project tackling this shortage is the Coastal STEMfest 2017 which is being run during February and March 2017 and is a celebration of STEM for schools and colleges in Coastal West Sussex, helping them forge links with local businesses.

The Coastal STEMfest launch was attended by more than 60 representatives from local businesses and education  who were entertained with a thought-provoking presentation from the event’s host Helen Keen, the award-winning comedian and creator of the Radio 4 series “It IS Rocket Science.”

Keen referenced the recent Hollywood film “Hidden Figures” as an example of the achievements of women in STEM. The film tells the previously-untold story of a group of African-American women mathematicians working for NASA who played a major role in the space race, highlighting the importance of not only promoting the STEM subjects but engaging young women into this industry.

Coastal STEMfest will deliver a  series of fun and exciting interactive demonstrations, workshops and shows in schools, in STEM Clubs and within local companies, its aim is to challenge young people’s perceptions of STEM subjects and to inspire them to study and develop careers in related industries.

It will culminate with the Big Bang @ Butlin’s science fair, held during National Science Week on 14th March and an opportunity for young people and their teachers to enjoy hands-on activities, discuss ideas and get advice from professionals.

“Addressing the STEM skills gap has been identified as a real priority for businesses in West Sussex,” said Caroline Wood, of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership.  “Local businesses are committed to doing more to enthuse young people to study STEM subjects, and we believe Coastal STEMfest 2017 will fire young people’s curiosity.

“It is also an opportunity for employers to engage with their potential future workforce by providing activities that make STEM subjects relevant to local industries. Feedback from last year’s Big Bang @ Butlin’s showed that three-quarters of students felt more positive about science after attending.”

Coastal STEMfest 2017 is being organised by STEM Sussex, the not-for-profit outreach department of the University of Brighton. It is based on the success of Crawley STEMfest, an annual event in schools and colleges during May and June that was first held in 2012. Supporters of the festival include Coastal West Sussex, Coast to Capital, Tomorrow’s Engineers, Sussex Learning Network, Arun District Council, Adur and Worthing Business Partnership and West Sussex County Council.

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  • Coastal West Sussex.
  • Coast 2 Capital.
  • STEM Sussex
  • Tomorrows Engineers.

  • Sussex Learning Network.
  • Adur and Worthing Business Partnership.
  • Arun District Council.
  • West Sussex County Council.
  • Chichester District Council.