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Somerscience festival will showcase the breadth of STEM opportunities available to south-west’s youth

Somerscience festival will showcase the breadth of STEM opportunities available to south-west's youth

A wide range of employers and universities will congregate in Somerset to promote the strength of the south-west’s STEM sector, in the inaugural Somerscience festival.

To inspire the next generation of STEM professionals in the south-west, the Somerscience festival is gathering major local employers such as Hinkley Point C and Bristol Airport, to draw attention to the STEM pathways that are on offer for young people who may have thought they would have had to travel outside the county to take up a career in a technical field.

Taking place on the May Bank Holiday (1st), the festival is spread across 12 venues in Castle Cary and Bruton. The programme for the day’s events includes a Science Circus, Robot Wars, I’m a Scientist Get Me Out of Here hosted by digital guru and Discovery TV presenter Suze Kundu, and many more engaging activities to garner interest in the career opportunities that local STEM employers are offering.

With the region’s most innovative thinkers coming together to highlight Somerset’s impressive local industries, the event is designed to allow young people to take part in up to 75 activities that have been planned out by the 65 organisations for the day.

We are hoping the festival will immerse attendees in the world of STEM, giving them a professional and educational perspective.

Somerset is a sleeping giant in STEM

The festival was born out of the argument that for too long, the south-west has been overlooked as a provider of STEM opportunities.

Instead, it is seen as a tourism hub, which is understandable when you consider our beautiful beaches, rich history, and delicious homegrown food and drink. Yet it is industry and technical innovation which provides the area’s beating heart.

Somerscience is a major step in combating the misconceptions about our area, which ought to be known as much for advancements in nuclear power and agriculture as it is for scones and cider.

However, the south-west of England’s prowess in the STEM field has yet to be fully realised. The increased technological activity in the region needs a continuous influx of young talent to build a powerhouse of innovation for our STEM sector.

It is hoped that new blood will also reduce the educational divide between London and Somerset. While the south-west secured more A* grades at A-level last year than several other counties, we still lag behind the national average – 13.7 per cent to 14.5 per cent – and behind London – 17.1 per cent.

Hinkley Point C powering the south-west’s STEM profile

Despite the perception of the area as being about heritage and tourists, there is a thriving and undervalued level of activity in the STEM industries. Significant examples of this are the Hinkley Point power stations.

Hinkley Point C, currently under construction, will aim to provide around seven per cent of the UK’s electricity, reinforcing the headland’s standing as a cornerstone of the region’s livelihoods and British prosperity.

The team behind Hinkley Point C will be attending Somerscience to raise awareness of the world-class opportunities that the new site will offer the local area, which ought to discourage young people from feeling the need to move away to start their careers.

Ageing population demonstrates need to retain young talent

The 2022 Local Skills Report from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership emphasises the importance of retaining talent to staff the region’s STEM sector.

The report highlights the high vacancy rates in the advanced engineering sector, creating an abundance of job opportunities in the industry.

Considering the challenges brought on by the pandemic, and the fact that “the south-west’s working age population is ageing around a third faster than the rest of the UK” according to the Local Skills Report, the festival will play a crucial role in encouraging young people to stay or move into the area after they have finished education.

Somerscience will celebrate business and communities

With the bastions of southwestern business and academia attending the festival, Somerscience is an ideal opportunity if you’re at a crossroads in your life journey, or you know someone who could do with some insight into the fantastic opportunities on offer.

Those who are interested in attending should visit to find out more about the event, the activities on offer, and employers who will be present.

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