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Collaboration Drives Cambridge STEM Phenomena

Form the Future was pleased to be invited to the Tech Nation 2017 event held at the Trinity Centre on Tuesday evening. The event was part of a national tour and was designed to highlight the findings of the recent Tech Nation report which provides the most comprehensive guide to the current health of the Tech industry. It was soon abundantly clear that if the Tech industry was a football team, it would be Barcelona! The industry currently turns over £170bn (£2.1bn of which comes from Cambridge) and is worth £97bn to the UK economy. It has shown a staggering 30% year on year growth and its employees enjoy an average salary of £51k (44% higher than the national average). The UK attracted almost 3 times as much investment compared to our nearest European rival, France. Gerard Grech, CEO of Tech City commented that the “momentum is with us”.

Although 75% of businesses are optimistic about the future, much of the agenda was dominated by the ever-growing skills gap. Already it is considered the biggest threat to growth; with 51% of businesses concerned about the supply of skilled labour. While many companies have successfully recruited from around the world, Brexit and other current visa hoops could make this even more difficult. So the obvious solution is to grow our own talent pipeline.

This resonates strongly with us here at Future towers, and our work with Marshall on the Cambridge LaunchPad initiative. This programme is designed to engage and inspire children in every year group (with a particular focus on girls) in STEM, with a mission to influence apprenticeship and degree choices, and ultimately deliver more engineers, techies, coders and scientists to the welcoming arms of local HR managers.

Robert Marshall has a vision. He would like to see our area top the ‘Girls taking STEM subjects at A level’ table, and why not? If not Cambridgeshire then where? Marshall has invested heavily in the foundations of a scheme that currently works with 15 schools: from Primary through to Sixth Form, and has an engineering activity embedded in almost every year group. This generates the sense of an energetic and engaged ‘LaunchPad movement’ which builds as students move towards their degree choices. Form the Future is now working closely with Marshall to broaden this initiative- to add scale, and also ensure that the other STEM elements (beyond engineering) are well catered for with inspiring activities. These activities fuel a passion for STEM and are unashamedly led by, and designed to inspire, girls; addressing the massive gender bias that currently exists (women account for only 13% of the STEM workforce). We are looking for corporate partners to share in the shaping of this vision (how can it grow- both in terms of reach, and also range of activities?) and offer resources and ideas to make it a reality. There are lots of excellent, but fragmented STEM engagement activities going on in the region,  If we can consolidate the best of them, and put them under one cohesive banner, how much more powerful would that be? We want to lead the country in best practice STEM engagement, at all age levels. If we are going to achieve that, we need the support of the most community-minded, innovative companies.

If Cambridge LaunchPad is to make any real impact on the skills pipeline in this area, it needs to harness what Cambridge does so well- find common ground amongst powerful and committed stakeholders; agree an effective and innovative strategy and implement with energy and passion.

Contact us if you would like to get involved.

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Our goal is that all young people move successfully from education into employment. As a social enterprise, we are reliant on grants and corporate funding in order to work with the schools across Cambridgeshire. Even the smallest donation helps us to provide careers inspiration for every child. Click below to find out more about what your donation could do for young people in your community.