Venues and Facilities
Bridging the gap in STEM education
British STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) industries are experiencing a crisis in the recruitment of employees for high-skill roles. A poll by the Association of Graduate Recruiters revealed that 95% of its members believed that there was a problem with recruiting STEM graduates, and 45% thought that this was a serious problem. The Lords Science and Technology Committee have called for immediate action to boost student numbers in STEM subjects. This need has highlighted various issues in both Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE) that impede the ability of educational institutions to meet industry needs in this area. Both FE and HE require significant investment in estate development to ensure that they have the cutting edge facilities required to produce students with world class STEM skills. There also needs to be significant steps forward to address gaps between education and employers. FE and HE institutions have been increasing their provision of employer led training in order to address this issue, with an increase in apprenticeships and utilisation of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs).
Join us for The Future of Further and Higher Education Summit and Exhibition, where high level speakers from government, education and business will be presenting their views on how to bridge the gap in STEM education. Topics covered shall include FE and HE STEM funding disparities, the need for better STEM educational facilities and industry demands for STEM skills.
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Both FE and HE require investment in estates in order to address the issues surrounding STEM subject training. By 2016 cuts to post-16 FE funding will exceed £460 million, making estate investment to improve STEM facilities a difficult task. Meanwhile, HE is experiencing a surge in funding following the 2012 tuition fee increase. The 2015 Policy Exchange report Higher, Further, Faster, More recommends that this negative correlation in funding be addressed by redirecting £532 million of the Higher Education Funding Council Grant to improve higher level technical qualifications at FE colleges. This has been met with opposition in HE, however, with Chief Executive of Universities UK Nicola Dandridge claiming that university funding still falls short in STEM areas as “fees…do not cover the cost of high-cost subjects such as science and engineering”.
In 2014 the government took steps to improve FE estates, extending the College Capital Investment Fund by investing £194.3 million in new facilities across 22 FE colleges to build specialist construction centres, advanced engineering facilities and cutting edge design departments. HE requires investment into its estates on a mass scale to provide cutting edge facilities for STEM education. Some universities have already begun these projects, with impressive results. The University of Glasgow, for example, won the Refurbished Laboratory category at the 2015-Lab Awards for its combination of sympathetic restoration of a grade A listed building with high energy efficiency and advanced science. Graham Tobasnick, Head of Technical Services in the School of Chemistry, commented that “the transformed laboratory and office environment has…greatly aided recruitment and the development of internal and external collaborations”.
As well as building the appropriate facilities, FE and HE institutions need to address the gap between education standards and employer requirements. In FE, the Department for Business Innovation and Skills 2014 report outlined plans for national colleges in advanced manufacturing, high speed rail and nuclear. These colleges are expected to be completed in 2020. Furthermore, all of these specialist training centres will be allied to professional bodies in the appropriate industry. This will allow them to work alongside industry to ensure that they are producing the highly skilled workers needed to bridge the gap between education and industry requirements.
In addition to improving facilities, partnerships between both FE and HE and industry are being formed as a solution to the growing skills gap issue. There has been a push towards employer led training and learning, through college apprenticeships and university Knowledge Transfer Partnerships. In response to the government’s 2015 manifesto commitment to creating 3 million new apprenticeships, FE colleges have begun to collaborate with industry employers to create the best possible training schemes to equip students for the working world. For example, in March 2015 Skills Minister Nick Boles announced that more than 200 new employers had joined the 1,000 company strong government Trailblazer initiative. This initiative allows employers to design high quality apprenticeships in everything from renewable energy to video games, ensuring their current and future workforce is equipped with industry tailored skills.
In HE, there is a gap between industry demand and both the number and quality of students being produced. A 2013 study on behalf of O2 found that Britain will need 750,000 skilled digital workers by 2017. In 2011, however, there were just 56,025 computer science graduates in the UK, showing a drop of 23.3% over a ten year period. Of those that do graduate, tech industry employers found that in 85% of cases candidates for ‘hard to fill’ tech specialist roles lacked skills, qualifications and experience. This gap in education is being recognised by students, with a National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) survey finding that 92% of students want placements, work experience and internships to be a part of their university experience.
As a response to student expectations, the first national Knowledge Transfer Partnership Week was introduced in 2014. Designed to give university graduates the opportunity to work alongside employers, each graduate taking part is assigned a project to undertake full time on behalf of a UK business. They are encouraged to work in conjunction with the company’s staff and a team of university academics, who can lend research skills, advice and specialist knowledge to the graduate’s raw talent. These initiatives allow companies to take the lead on training graduates in the specialist skills required in the workplace. This leads to improved graduate employability, with approximately 78% of graduates being offered employment at the end of a KTP.
Delegates attending The Future of Further and Higher Education Summit and Exhibition will learn about the arguments around FE and HE STEM funding disparities, government and education institution initiatives to provide better STEM teaching facilities, and how the education sector is working with industry to bridge the gap between employer expectations and student skills.
Registration, Refreshments and Exhibition
Opening Remarks from Chair
Peter Tavernor, Former Principal of Manchester College
Terence Hogarth, Principal Research Fellow, Warwick Institute for Employment Research
Terence Hogarth has around 30 years' experience of researching UK and EU labour and training markets. His recent work has concentrated on the operation of Apprenticeship systems from the perspective of employers and apprentices.
Graeme Holland, Head of Facilities, The University of Salford
Special Keynote on the University Estate
Refreshments and Networking Break
David Ward, Coordinator, Greater Manchester STEM Centre
The Greater Manchester STEM CENTRE are dedicated to promoting activities that enthuse and excite young people's interest and potential careers in science and technology.
Chris Hale, Director of Policy, Universities UK
Chris Hale is responsible for overseeing the full range of higher education policy development at Universities UK, coordinating priorities and shaping the future policy agenda on behalf of member institutions.
Aaron Porter, Director of External Affairs, National Centre for Universities and Businesses (NCUB)
Aaron Porter Oversees NCUB's engagement with external stakeholders, direct media and press engagement and lead on parliamentary and public affairs.
Lunch and Networking
Neil Carberry, Director for Employment and Skills, CBI
The CBI is the UK's premier business lobbying organisation, providing a voice for employers at a national and international level.
Paula Gibson, Employer and Delivery Services Manager, Skills Funding Agency
Paula Gibson is responsible for developing Apprenticeship Programmes for large employers, supporting the localism agenda around skills growth in priority sectors and leading on marketing and communications for Apprenticeships including National Apprenticeship Regional Apprenticeship Awards.
Graeme Wise, Head of Policy, University Alliance
Graeme Wise is Head of Policy at the University Alliance. His background is in higher education policy, and has particular interest in the role universities play in their cities and regions. He joins the Alliance on secondment from NUS, where he led engagement with the Browne Review and subsequent developments in the sector.
Closing Remarks from Chair
Peter Tavernor, Former Principal of Manchester College
No dates are available.
Who should attend?
Delegates attending this event will include vice-chancellors, pro vice-chancellors, heads of schools and Faculties, heads of research and development, heads of commercial services, business development managers, collaboration managers, lecturers and academics, researchers and research co-ordinators, members of executive boards and governing bodies, directors of enterprise and innovation, directors of research and enterprise, heads of knowledge transfer programmes, research development managers and heads of technology and will be drawn from universities, further education colleges, knowledge transfer partnerships, science parks, research councils, central government and the private sector.
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