As an education and skills report this month by the CBI and Pearson suggests, there remains a complex challenge in encouraging the education pipeline to produce more people with the right STEM skills.
Over 400 East London pupils (aged 14-16) from 25 different schools attended the airport’s third annual ‘STEM in Aviation Day’ at ExCeL London, joined by the Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg, and representatives from the sector that included London City Airport, British Airways, NATS, Bechtel and the Emirates Aviation Experience.
In an eclectic range of sessions and experiences, facilitated by business volunteers, pupils saw the amazing variety of ways STEM can be applied in the workplace, including use of voice recognition, machine learning, artificial intelligence and virtual reality to help with construction management.
With East London home to some of the fastest-growing areas in the country, major national infrastructure projects in the decades to come, and a government industrial strategy with productivity at its heart, the goal of the event was to boost take-up of STEM subjects so that the skills needed now and in the future are met.
To help East London pupils specifically, the airport revealed details of a new bursary worth £5,000 each for students wishing to pursue a STEM subject in higher education.
Baroness Sugg, Aviation Minister, said: “It is clear from today that we have a wealth of creative talent.
“Events such as this, along with our ongoing work as part of the Year of Engineering campaign, are vital in helping to encourage more pupils to take up STEM subjects as we look to build the diverse and highly-skilled workforce of the future.”
Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City Airport, said: “At London City Airport, we are acutely aware of the need to attract the best engineering and technology minds to meet the skills challenges of the future. Particularly as we deliver our £500 million development and implement cutting edge tech like a new digital air traffic control tower.
“If we can do that locally, then we build a sustainable workforce, and nurture skills for East London which will be critical for its continued regeneration.
"Today is about reaching these school pupils at a formative stage of their education, opening their eyes to the possibilities of STEM, and breaking down historic barriers to accessing these fields.”