Tania Cooper MBE, chair of the North East STEM Foundation (NESF), has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to call for further investment in STEM education ahead of his Autumn Statement in November.
Tania’s letter emphasises the critical role of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education in preparing future generations for the evolving industrial landscape of the North East and addressing the stark underrepresentation of STEM expertise within the UK Parliament.
In her letter to Jeremy Hunt, she highlights the significance of STEM education as a fundamental building block for fostering innovation, economic growth, and sustainable development in the North East and across the United Kingdom. With substantial investments and initiatives like the introduction of the first Freeport on Teesside which underscores the requirement for a well-equipped, STEM-skilled workforce to drive these developments forward.
Tania also draws attention to the recent report by Rebecca McKee, Unsung Heroes: An Examination of Who They Are and What They Do, which reveals a significant underrepresentation of STEM subjects within Parliament. According to the report, more than 90% of graduates who work directly with Members of Parliament have backgrounds in social sciences and humanities, highlighting the scarcity of STEM expertise at the heart of government decision-making.
Tania said: “Given that these individuals exert considerable influence on policymaking, it is challenging to envision how our evolving economy can thrive without proper STEM understanding, appreciation, and representation at the heart of government. Education in STEM imparts transferable skills that are fundamental in supporting Members of Parliament in their work, particularly in analysing policies and legislation across a wide spectrum of topics.”
The NESF is dedicated to ensuring that every young person, regardless of their background, can access high-quality STEM education in a modern environment supported by employers. The foundation seeks to future-proof both industry and the local economy by nurturing highly skilled and innovative workers. NESF achieves its mission through various initiatives, including STEM outreach programs, the removal of financial barriers to STEM education, and the creation of high-quality STEM-focused environments at key stages 3, 4, and 5.
Tania Cooper, who is also Managing Director at Steel Benders UK Ltd, said: “I implore Mr. Hunt to prioritise STEM education in his upcoming statement, to ensure that all individuals can access high-quality technical education, enabling them to thrive in our increasingly complex and interconnected world. Particularly given the growth and investment in the North East which requires more skilled people to fill positions.”