Westminster Higher Education Forum

Next steps for tackling STEM skills gaps - widening participation, improving delivery and increasing employability

Morning, Thursday, 15th November 2018

Central London


This timely seminar will focus on the next steps for policy in improving uptake of STEM at university, ensuring the quality and relevance of STEM degrees and increasing the rate of graduate progression into industry.

It will bring together policymakers with key stakeholders in industry, higher education and more widely.

The discussion will centre on the latest thinking on strategies for tackling the current shortage of STEM skills in the UK, in light of the heightened focus by policymakers on the issue and the additional investment of £406m in maths, digital and technical education set out in the Industrial Strategy White Paper. The seminar also follows the announcement of a £900 million UK Research and Innovation Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme which will fund 550 new fellowships and is open to businesses as well as universities

Delegates will also consider how to adopt a cohesive, cross-sectoral approach to develop sufficient supply in the STEM sector workforce, following the recommendations of the National Audit Office report ‘Delivering STEM skills for the economy’.

Key areas for discussion include:

  • STEM subjects and industry - ensuring that STEM provision in HE is meeting the needs of STEM industries and of the wider UK economy;
  • Curriculum design - promoting interdisciplinarity and keeping degrees up to date with latest innovations in research and industry;
  • Funding and facilities - improving resources for teaching and research, developing world-class facilities and ensuring financial support;
  • - inclusivity in STEM and attracting more women, BAME students and people from disadvantaged backgrounds;
  • Addressing skills mismatches - developing pathways to increase uptake in undersupplied and imbalanced areas, such as mathematics and engineering;
  • Progression to doctoral study - encouraging undergraduate and master students to continue their studies to doctoral level; and
  • Graduate employability - strategies for improving the pipeline from STEM degrees to STEM careers and supporting successful progression.

Guests of Honour

Nicola Turner

Head of Skills, Office for Students

Dr Sarah Read

Head of STEM strategy, Department for Education

Guests of Honour

Nicola Turner

Head of Skills, Office for Students

Dr Sarah Read

Head of STEM strategy, Department for Education

Keynote Speaker

Phil Hyde

Audit Manager, Education VFM Team, National Audit Office


Lord Broers

former Chair, House of Lords Science and Technology Committee

Lord Lucas

Officer, All-Party Parliamentary Group for Skills and Employment


Dr Lucy Jones

Vice Dean, Education, Faculty of Science Engineering and Computing, Kingston University London and Member, WISE Campaign

Stephen Howse

Policy & Public Affairs Lead, Semta

Professor Janet Scott

Training Director, Centre for Doctoral Training in Sustainable Chemical Technologies, University of Bath

Professor Lynette Ryals

Pro Vice Chancellor and Director of Cranfield School of Management, Cranfield University

Asfa Sohail

Vice Principal, Havering College of Further and Higher Education

Professor John Perkins

Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Manchester and former Chief Scientific Adviser, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

Dr Eunice Atkins

Employability and Skills Development Manager, Faculty of Natural Sciences/Careers and Employability Service, University of Stirling

Professor Nazira Karodia

Dean, Faculty of Science and Engineering, University of Wolverhampton

Dr Colin Brown

Interim Chief Executive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Dom McDonald

Head of Education, The Royal Institution

Dr Malcolm Skingle

Head of Academic Liaison, GlaxoSmithKline

Katie Daniel

Head of Manufacturing, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council