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Coastal science festival gets underway
23rd November 2015

Innovations in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) have a huge impact on our daily lives. But worryingly, when asked last year, only half of 18-24 year olds could cite the engineering development in the last 50 years that had the most impact on their lives.

Last night, senior members of industry and other stakeholders gathered at The Body Shop in Littlehampton, to discuss Coastal STEMfest and ways that employers could support schools to inspire young people about STEM, and encourage them to consider careers in and with STEM. Sarah Davenport, Regional Engagement Manager for EngineeringUK, kicked off last night’s meeting. Why are events like Coastal STEMfest so vital? The answer is simple: we need more engineers. Engineering turnover grew 6.7% in the last year to £1.17 trillion, which is nearly 25% of all UK turnover. This means we need to double the number of engineering apprentices and graduates entering the industry. Local employers in Coastal West Sussex are tackling this problem head on by engaging with schools during Coastal STEMfest - whether that’s through careers talks, site visits or attending an event, such as the Big Bang @ Butlin’s, Bognor Regis. Kirk Brown, Chair of the Coastal West Sussex Partnership and Site Director for GSK Worthing, explained more about the festival, and how employers could get involved. Coastal STEMfest aims to help improve workforce skills by bringing together local partners, and connecting employers and schools. The festival will provide a great platform to address some key issues and concerns for industry and enterprise in the local area. Mike Punter, Managing Director from local company, Parafix, discussed the impact and reward of interacting with schools. He highlighted the vital need to challenge gender stereotypes and encourage women into STEM roles, and spoke of the benefits of apprenticeships. Coastal STEMfest will take place during February 2016 and will culminate in the Big Bang @ Butlin’s, Bognor Regis on 3rd March. • For further information or to get invovled, visit www.coastalstemfest.co.uk or contact STEM Sussex, tel. 01273 642062 or email coastalstemfest@brighton.ac.uk • Engineering statistcs taken from the EngineeringUK State of Engineering report: http://www.engineeringuk.com/Research/Engineering_UK_Report_2015/ • Laura Still’s blog can be found here: http://parafix.com/2014/09/18/parafix-uk-welcomes-engineering-apprentice/

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