Introducing the region
The South West is made up of eight counties: Bristol, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire, Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly - which are home to 5.2 million people. The South West of England is the largest of the regions, and has the lowest population density. The South West also has the longest coastline of any region in England – over 700 miles in total.
Snapshot: STEM business and industry in the region
The second largest sector in the South West is advanced engineering, with aerospace as the largest sub-sector. This region is also a major centre of biomedical research, with 336 companies and internationally recognised expertise.
Environmental technologies contribute £1,300 million to the regional economy, with the potential to produce another 39,000 jobs, and £670 million.
The region contributes almost 8% of the UK's Gross Value Added.
Major STEM sectors and top employers
Aerospace – Airbus, GE Aviation, BAE Systems
Automotive – Honda, Rolls Royce
Biomedical – BD (Becton Dickinson), Actavis
Metrology and Healthcare – Renishaw
Financial & professional – Zurich, AXA, Legal & General, PricewaterhouseCoopers, KPMG, Deloitte
Digital & creative – HP, Orange, Motorola, O2
Nuclear & scientific – Wave Hub, Solarcentury, RWE NPower, EDF Energy
The CBI annual skills report (Learning to grow, 2012) identified 42% of employers as having difficulties in recruiting STEM-skilled employees. In 2008, Semta (the Sector Skills Council for Science, Engineering and Manufacturing Technologies) looked forward to 2014 and reported skills gaps in the workforce, which offer opportunities for STEM-skilled individuals in the South West:
- The South West accounts for 8% of all Engineering employment and 9% of all Engineering establishments in Great Britain, employing 129,400 people in 6,470 establishments.
- The largest sectors in terms of employment are mechanical equipment, electronics and metal products.
- 94% of Engineering establishments in the South West employ less than 50 people.
- 22% of Engineering establishments in the South West reported skill gaps, which was slightly higher than the proportion within UK Engineering (21%).
- Employers in the South West expected skills gaps for skilled trades (craft), technicians and professionals would have the most significant effect on their business.
- The main skills cited as lacking in employees were technical and engineering skills at all levels; 70% of those Engineering establishments in the South West reporting skill gaps.
- The three main technical skills gaps for the Engineering sector in the South West were CNC machine operations, computer aided design (CAD) and computer aided engineering (CAE).
- The generic skills gaps highlighted were IT/computer skills (8%), key or core personal skills (4%) and management skills (4%).
- Together with changes in skill requirements, qualifications demanded by employers are likely to change, with an increasing requirement for intermediate and higher level qualifications. Over the period 2008-2014 there is expected to be a net requirement within the Engineering industry in the South West for about 5,000 people at NVQ Level 2, 5,600 people at NVQ Level 3, 4,700 people at NVQ Level 4 and about 1,100 at NVQ Level 5 or above.
Further information is available from the Semta Engineering Skills Balance Sheet.
STEM education support infrastructure
Several organisations are working to support the development of STEM skills in the South West. This team includes:
Enhancement and enrichment - creating opportunities to inspire young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
To contact the STEMNET in South West regional networks manager click here.
The Institute of Physics is a scientific society devoted to increasing the practice, understanding and application of physics.
Regional Officer: Miranda Addey, email@example.com
ESERO-UK - the UK space education office
Using space to enhance and support STEM teaching and learning in the UK.
Regional Space Ambassador: Mike Grocott, firstname.lastname@example.org