Businesses in Gloucestershire have been introduced to the new South Gloucestershire and Stroud College Berkeley Green campus and University Technical College on the site of the old nuclear power station.
Business West and the college held a business breakfast at Berkeley to discuss how to bridge the science, technology, engineering and manufacturing (STEM) skills gap in the region.
A breakfast panel was chaired by Ian Mean, director for Business West in Gloucestershire with Kevin Hamblin, SGS group chief executive and executive principal; Roman Cooper, small business champion for GFirst LEP; Peter Carr, lead commissioner for employment and skills for Gloucestershire County Council, and Lucy Ackland, senior development engineer at Renishaw.
Kevin Hamblin told the companies present: ”I think Berkeley is the future for engineering and manufacturing—more people like you have to see it.
“If you don’t have the facilities for engineering and manufacturing you won’t educate people into taking it up. We are at the start of a journey and everything we have done here has been the response to employers like you.”
And Neil Carmichael, former chairman of the government’s Education Select Committee, who is standing for Stroud in the general election, commented:
“This place really is going to deliver.
“We have got to see more interface between business and education. It is going to be even more important to deliver the skills locally because of Brexit.”
Peter Carr said that re-training and upskilling of skills was so important to the county’s economy in the future, and the LEP had secured £6million to help to fund that initiative.
“Lots of schools want to engage in the STEM agenda more fully and business needs to make engagements with those schools.”, said Mr Carr.
Lucy Ackland of Renishaw made an inspirational plea for more girls to take on engineering apprenticeships. She left the King’s School in Gloucester at 16 from where she was expected to go to university.
“My school could not understand why someone as bright as me would want to leave school to go into an engineering apprenticeship.”, she said.
“I think that tells you about the generation of my teachers but also the perception of apprenticeships. I love my job and my career—I want to prove that apprenticeships are the way forward.”
Lucy, 29, brought four of Renishaw’s women engineering ambassadors to the Berkeley discussion.
“We now have a hundred young engineering ambassadors and a good number of those are women”, she said.
Out of 160 students between 14-16 starting at the Berkeley campus in September, 32 are girls.
Ian Mean added: ”I believe that skills and upskilling is one of the key challenges facing Gloucestershire.
“Berkeley was incredibly innovative in the Sixties with nuclear and will now be equally innovative in developing STEM skills among our young people.”