Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) at the University of Cumbria

Recent research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills shows that: “43% of vacancies in STEM roles are hard to fill due to a shortage of applicants with the required skills – almost double the UK average of 24%,” whilst in engineering, this is apparent for almost 60% of vacancies.

Training in STEM subjects is particularly important for Cumbria given that over a quarter of its GVA (gross value added) derives from manufacturing (almost two and a half times the national average), and major developments are planned at Moorside (Nuclear), the West Coast (Tidal Lagoon), Barrow (BAE) and Ulverston (Glaxo Smith Kline). As an example, Glaxo Smith Kline plan to recruit 300 new staff by 2021, with 70% likely to require graduate skills.

It is essential therefore, that the University of Cumbria is able to offer a range of degrees in STEM subjects that can respond to a national skills gap in STEM trained graduates; a regional manufacturing industry requiring skilled staff, and a current lack of opportunities for young people to participate in STEM education at higher education level within Cumbria.

STEM is therefore a major priority for the University and this is reflected in our fundraising aims. The Carlisle STEM Labs were recently opened in October, but in the meantime, substantial bids have been submitted to Trusts and Foundations to extend this facility with a second floor, and for new faculty members to be employed to deliver teaching and innovation in STEM across the region.

The extension to the current STEM labs will enhance existing science programmes, and enable degree-level qualifications to be offered in engineering, chemistry and biomedical science in Cumbria for the first time. Furthermore, the centre will work with local schools and student ambassadors to stimulate and encourage interest in STEM subjects across the region.

Around £1.5m of additional income is required to develop this facility, and we hope to work with a number of industry, charitable and public sector partners to realise this. With construction planned for the summer, we look forward to inviting you to its future opening. If you should wish to find out more about this initiative please contact Jamie Hodge on james.hodge@cumbria.ac.uk or telephone 01228 888859.