An independent commission that will aim to raise attainment and pave the way to greater opportunities in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) has been launched in Haringey.
The Haringey Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Commission will investigate barriers to STEM education and employment and make recommendations for raising interest, attainment and access to STEM opportunities.
It will be chaired by Baroness Sally Morgan, who chaired the House of Lords Select Committee on Digital Skills last year and boasts an expert panel including journalist Robert Peston, former Tomorrow’s World host and co-founder and CEO of TeenTech CIC Maggie Philbin, Managing Director of London Stansted Airport Andrew Harrison, and Michael McKenzie, head teacher at Alexandra Park School, Haringey.
There are currently close to three million jobs in the UK that demand STEM skills, with the vast majority in industries that are expected to grow significantly in the coming years. However recent research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, highlighted that employers find it difficult to fill around half of all STEM-based job vacancies due to a shortage of candidates with the required qualifications.
There are also concerns that if the STEM skills gap remains unaddressed, major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail and ambitious regeneration schemes across the capital could be threatened by a lack of suitable employees to deliver them.
Baroness Sally Morgan, Chair of the Commission said:
The growth of the STEM sectors presents considerable opportunities for job seekers with the relevant skills and qualifications. However we know that at school level and beyond STEM subjects are not as popular as they should be. Girls in particular are much less likely to pursue a STEM education and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds tend to perform less well than their counterparts.
We want to address this to ensure all of Haringey’s young people are able to take advantage of the wide range of career choices out there. We want to look at why this is happening, search out good practice, and promote practical ways forward for Haringey.
Cllr Claire Kober OBE, speaking at the Haringey-supported National Conference for School Improvement said:
Offering Haringey’s young people access to the best possible opportunities in life is one of our biggest priorities as a council. Once Google opens in Kings Cross there will be more tech jobs in London than there are in Silicon Valley. That’s why it’s so important to establish this Commission, which I hope will challenge us to adopt practical ways to break down barriers, put in place the right training and education and open up greater opportunities in the STEM sectors to more young people in the borough.
I hope this work will lead to practical suggestions as to how more Haringey residents are able to access careers in these exciting and important industries. Opening up these opportunities will also enable the borough to play its part in the London economy, increasing productivity, driving innovation and addressing skill shortages.