Cardiff STEM leaders offer expert advice on tackling the skills gap

By Raspberry Jim,

Innovative thinking and dynamic partnerships between STEM leaders and educators are the key to reversing a “catastrophic” shortfall of over 200,000 scientific workers a year, according to Cardiff’s business leaders.

Experts from Sony UK Technology Centre, scientific educational charity Techniquest, and intellectual property firm Wynne Jones IP, are speaking out to mark British Science Week from March 8th to the 17th.

They are sharing their views after a report from Engineering UK showed that 203,000 people with higher engineering skills will be needed across the sector annually to meet demand until 2024.

In a bid to tackle this issue, the three Cardiff STEM leaders, whose businesses are at the forefront of driving innovation across the engineering, science, and technology sectors, are offering their advice to bridge the skills gap.

Sony UK TEC

Wales’s leading manufacturing facility Sony UK Technology Centre is considered a global innovator when it comes to engineering excellence.

With Sony UK TEC blending both practical and educational elements into its work with schools, Director of Professional Services Gerald Kelly believes that a combination of both is the solution to solving the growing skills shortfall.

The Pencoed facility, which produces high specification broadcast cameras for worldwide distribution, is renowned for being at the forefront of technological progression, and driving innovation across the manufacturing industry.

The Welsh site has not only developed a global reputation for producing leading technology such as the 4K camera, Nimway, and Raspberry Pi, but it is also renowned for ensuring digital literacy is widely accessible for a new generation of budding scientists.

As such, the facility runs an in-house Digital competency programme, which sees Sony UK TEC work with schools across Wales to provide access to media and broadcast technology.  It also runs a Learn2Code workshop, which encourages pupils to write their own code and learn about how technology is embedded into manufacturing.

With Sony UK TEC blending both practical and educational elements into its work with schools, Director of Professional Services Gerald Kelly believes that a combination of both is the solution to solving the growing skills shortfall.

He said: “Here at Sony UK TEC we firmly believe that it is not enough, or fair for industry to rely solely on education to deliver what is needed in terms of STEM.

“So we engage with schools and the Curriculum for Wales ourselves, and deliver bespoke programmes which are both fun, and inspire curiosity among pupils, while delivering vital technology knowledge.

“I think it’s this equal blend of the practical and the educational which will ultimately drive pupils to consider STEM careers and consequently tackle the much-publicised skills shortfall in the future.

“We believe that introducing STEM through a more interactive manner will undeniably encourage pupils to reconsider STEM roles, and explore the vast variety of careers available to them throughout the industry.

“It’s fundamental that manufacturers work with schools to expose children to rewarding and enriching roles as part of their curriculum, in order to peak their interest from a younger age.

“Most importantly we believe that it is vital that children are able to easily access and learn about coding, which is undeniably shaping the future of not just manufacturing, but the future of industries globally.”

Techniquest

As Wales’s leading science discovery centre, Techniquest has also seamlessly combined innovative STEM engagement with educational learning for over 30 years.

Techniquest’s Chief Executive Officer, Lesley Kirkpatrick, believes it is at a fundamental educational level that the nationwide STEM skills shortage can be curbed.

The popular centre, which is based in the bay, recognises the importance of promoting rewarding STEM careers and engagement through an interactive blend of unique scientific exhibits, shows and talks, along with educational outreach at hundreds of schools across Wales.

And Techniquest’s dedication to advancing STEM skills and making science more accessible, is set to get a significant boost after a £5.7 million expansion plan, which will see the centre increase in size by over 60% , was given the go ahead.

With this in mind, chief executive officer Lesley Kirkpatrick, believes it is at a fundamental educational level that the nationwide STEM skills shortage can be curbed.

She said: “As a charity which believes passionately in the ability of STEM skills to transform career potential, we have been heavily involved in discussions surrounding the predicted shortfall and how this can be reversed.

“It is incredibly concerning from a number of perspectives, as the STEM industry and its continued innovation plays such a vital role in the nation’s economic success. Equally, the lack of skilled workers could lead to declining levels of technological development across the UK in the coming years, and a lack of STEM uptake could see thousands of students miss out on their true professional potential.

“From our perspective it appears that the shortfall can be tackled at a fundamental educational level, by encouraging schools, universities, and science centres, such as ourselves, to work collaboratively to promote rewarding STEM careers and their diversity at all stages of learning.

“By forging dynamic working relationships, which highlight the significant benefits and exciting prospects afforded through STEM, we believe that we can embed scientific engagement into early learning and create a spark for STEM throughout Wales.

“To highlight this we have worked diligently with schools to develop and deliver an education programme that enhances and enriches the STEM curriculum and enthuses and excites pupils from Foundation phase to A level.

“We believe collaboration is key to not only curbing the shortage, but reinvigorating the sector in the years to come.”

Wynne Jones IP

Intellectual property may not be the first profession you consider when discussing STEM.

But with chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering graduates all choosing the industry, it’s evident that scientific skills are not just relevant, but essential to success in this profession.


Dr Nation believes that diversifying STEM career options and assessing business needs is crucial to attracting talent and tackling the STEM skills shortage.

Many STEM graduates may feel limited in their career options if the laboratory or research isn’t for them, however intellectual property gives them a chance to diversify and think outside the box to protect the trademarks, patents, and designs of products and companies worldwide.

Wynne Jones IP, which has offices in Cardiff, Cheltenham, London, and Telford, specialises in advising across all areas of intellectual property, with a particular focus on the STEM sector.

And when it comes to attracting STEM graduates and supporting them to achieve their potential, the firm is ahead of the curve.

It has established its own highly successful four-year training academy, which educates and shapes trainees into well-rounded, industry leading attorneys. This has seen success year on year, and commercial director Dr Jayne Nation believes it offers an exciting alternative for those looking to pursue STEM careers.

Dr Nation believes that diversifying STEM career options and assessing business needs is crucial to attracting talent and tackling the STEM skills shortage.

She said: “STEM careers not only allow you to achieve something truly worthwhile personally, they enable you to make a profound difference to vast industries and potentially change the lives of millions of people worldwide.

“It is for this reason that the STEM skills shortage is incredibly concerning and could prove to be catastrophic if it is not addressed quickly.

“From my perspective there are a number of ideas which could tackle this. Developing business and education task forces in major, strategically targeted tech sectors, could identify current business technology needs and skills that aren’t being met and which are in great demand. This could anticipate future business requirements and tech trends to ensure people have the relevant skills.

“Intervention at an educational level is also vital, and as such establishing combined academic and vocational training packages for students over 18 could really provide a boost.

“These could cover both academic training in STEM, alongside tech training within a job, that will directly fill the UK priority skills gaps. If they were run as a joint programme, combining academic and vocational learning, they could become a training experience of prestige that is sought after.

“It could also be beneficial to look at reward and remuneration of STEM jobs in key areas where there are big skill gaps. Businesses could offer bursaries, enhanced salaries and other rewards to attract people into these STEM roles in targeted sectors.”

Exciting new Techniquest appointment will ‘transform’ engagement and participation opportunities

By Raspberry Jim,

Educational charity Techniquest has appointed an expert new Community Engagement Officer who will transform engagement and participation opportunities as the charity steps into an “exciting” new era.

Kelsey Barcenilla has joined the leading science discovery centre to spearhead engagement with new audiences and community members, whilst also creating new volunteering opportunities as the charity embarks on its multimillion-pound Science Capital project.

Mrs Barcenilla, who will support the Partnerships and Engagement team, will work closely with local communities, delivering events, participation research sessions and collaborative projects which will help the organisation embed a rewarding, inclusive culture of community engagement.

With a wealth of experience which includes international teaching in China and a role with Cardiff Institute for the Blind, she will also be responsible for developing robust relationships with local communities by shaping exciting volunteer opportunities.

The appointment comes at an exciting time for the charity, which will see its innovative Science Capital project brought to life this year.

The new Techniquest is set to open by 2020

The Science Capital, which encompasses a radical transformation and extension of Techniquest’s current building in Cardiff Bay, aims to redevelop the site into a contemporary science hub by 2020.

With interactive and immersive STEM learning experiences designed to pique curiosity and increase interest in the STEM industries, the project is part of the charity’s commitment to developing a scientifically literature society across Wales.

Mrs Barcenilla said she was “over the moon” about her new role.

She said: “I’m thrilled to be joining Techniquest at such a pivotal and exciting time. I’ve over the moon to be joining such an iconic organisation, which has helped shaped my own learning over the years. Growing up, it was always somewhere which ignited excitement, curiosity and learning, and I couldn’t be happier to be involved in its journey.

“I’m looking forward to creating lasting and rewarding relationships with the local communities and really discovering what matters to them. It’s incredibly important to me that I harness these wonderful relationships and create meaningful opportunities for both Techniquest and the community.”

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Kelsey to the team for what is set to be a game-changing year for our organisation. With her expertise and natural talent for cultivating relationships, we’re looking forward to seeing her flourish in her new role.”

Techniquest makes a big splash at sea-themed After Hours event

By Raspberry Jim,

Dive into sustainable living with edible cocktail blobs, bath bombs and Cardiff’s first zero-waste store at Techniquest’s latest After Hours.

On 7 February, the famous after dark event will return to Techniquest by exploring man-made changes to the world’s oceans with its highly-anticipated Under the Sea event.

Visitors will be treated to a special talk and pop-up shop from environmentally-conscious cosmetic company Lush, discovering the science of irreversible change with bath bombs.

For a small additional fee, Lush will also provide the opportunity for visitors to get hands-on with the colourful fizzing bombs, letting them make and take home their own Big Blue bath bomb or the brand-new Turtle Jelly bomb.

Moving into the centre’s Imagination Playground for the evening will be Cardiff Harbour Authority (CHA) which will host an eco-lounge, a relaxation area made entirely from rubbish removed from the Bay.

The lounge will host Skipping Rocks Lab, making its debut in Wales with Ooho cocktails. The company will be alongside CHA, who will teach visitors how they manage the marine welfare of Cardiff Bay’s iconic waterfront.

Also joining the event will be Ripple, Cardiff’s first ever not-for-profit zero waste store, providing a pop-up shop filled with essential items suitable for a “waste free starter pack”.

In an immersive evening filled with environmental experts, visitors will be able to explore the damaging effects of plastic pollution on the world’s seas while enjoying all the centre has to offer.

Cardiff University experts Tiago Alves and Emma McKinley will be on hand to discuss the Sea4All project, while Keep Wales Tidy will take a pop-up shop to the Lab, with the opportunity to take part in a beach clean activity.

Guests will also have the chance to get hands-on with the centre’s two floors of interactive exhibits, whilst also enjoying access to a fully licensed bar and street food from award-winning caterers Cleverchefs.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest said: “As we continue on our mission to make science fun and accessible to people of all ages, we’re absolutely thrilled to be hosting such an exciting and important event as part of After Hours, sponsored by Admiral.

“With many organisations taking a stand against harmful plastics, we couldn’t be prouder to be collaborating with local businesses and partners to spread awareness of plastic pollution with the engaging, interactive science that our centre is known and loved for.

“We’ve been working hard to become an environmentally conscious organisation, and what better way to learn about the future of marine life than with our own After Hours event, which is so beloved by many.”

Techniquest makes crucial appointment ahead of “game-changing” 2019

By Raspberry Jim,

Educational charity Techniquest has recruited a brand-new Head of Engagement and Partnerships ahead of a “game-changing” 2019. 

The appointment is the result of an open recruitment process which saw one of its longstanding employees, Clare James, being promoted to this exciting new role.  Clare was previously the centre’s Fundraising Manager.

As part of her new role, Ms James will lead the charity’s stakeholder engagement programme across its wide range of partners, including corporate sectors, academic institutions, and local communities.

Working with relevant organisations and STEM partners, Ms James will develop crucial relationships and provide essential support in shaping Techniquest’s programmes,  demonstrating the relevance of science to people’s everyday lives. 

After securing £5.7million in funding, the organisation will now march forward with its Science Capital project, set for completion in 2020, which will encompass a radical transformation and extension of its current building in Cardiff Bay.

Discussing her new role, Ms James said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be taking on this new role during such a pivotal and exciting time for Techniquest. I’ve worked diligently to support the charity on its mission to inspire generations of scientists and great thinkers to come, and I’m looking forward to taking on a new challenge and building upon our recent achievements.

“While Techniquest has always been loved by young children and families, we’re now diversifying our audiences and we’re working with our partners, particularly within our communities, to find out how to make science relevant to them and the assets they bring to the partnership.

“2019 is set to be a game-changing year for our organisation. After an incredible year in which we secured a mammoth £5.7million in funding, we’re looking forward to seeing our Science Capital project come to life.”

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO at Techniquest said: “We’re delighted to see Clare achieve such great success during her time with us. With her unique insight and expertise, her work as Fundraising Manager has made an incredible difference to the charity.”

“Since starting at the organisation in 2016, Clare has been committed to helping us on our mission to create a scientifically literate society across Wales. Nurturing positive relationships with incredible partners, Clare has been instrumental in our recent successes and we’re all thrilled that she has been successful in this recruitment process.”

Techniquest submits plans for Science Capital project

By Raspberry Jim,

Techniquest has submitted a planning application for its £5.7m Science Capital project, which will see the radical transformation and expansion of its science discovery centre in Cardiff Bay.

Planning has been submitted to extend the educational charity’s current building on Stuart Street to create an additional 900m2 of exhibition floor space.

The scheme, designed by local architecture practice HLM, will significantly increase Techniquest’s footprint providing an additional 60% exhibition space to house brand new innovative content related to, and developed with, Welsh STEM innovators, academics and communities.

The new immersive and innovative exhibition areas and experiences will help Techniquest to diversify its audiences and increase visitor numbers by at least 40%.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO of Techniquest said: “Since securing funding, it has been full steam ahead in our Science Capital project. We’ve been working closely with our consultants to marry up our objectives, with the space we have available, and our ultimate goal of ensuring the charity has a sustainable and long-term future in Wales.

“We’re delighted with the final plans, which are contemporary, inclusive, flexible and eye-catching. Gaining planning consent is naturally a crucial factor in the future of this project so we’re hopeful for a positive result.”

As well as creating a new vibrant public entrance, the plans include a designated community space overlooking the Bay, a new café and shop, in addition to a roof terrace and courtyard designed to host interactive artworks and features to complement exhibitions.

Patrick Arends, leisure and culture sector lead at HLM said: “Techniquest has been providing inspiring scientific education for over 30 years and the new extension will reflect this with a contemporary design that will showcase this unique and much-loved facility in Cardiff.  The Cardiff HLM studio has been working closely with the project team, drawing on its extensive experience in designing top class educational and leisure spaces, to create a vibrant space that is flexible, active and relevant.”

The scheme is being project managed by Lee Wakemans who are working alongside HLM (architects), Hydrock (project engineers) and Wardell Armstrong (planning consultant).

Paul Wong, Director at Lee Wakemans said: “Techniquest is on a marvellous journey of renewal looking to reach a much wider audience. We feel privileged to play our part in helping to translate what the client is seeking to achieve, into an exciting design which will get built and ready for summer 2020. It’s great to have reached this milestone of submitting the planning application and we’re grateful to all team members who have helped us reach this point.”

Subject to planning permission being granted, it is anticipated that work on the extension will commence in Spring 2019, with the new space being open to the public by Summer 2020.

After dark science returns to Techniquest with brand-new events line-up

By Raspberry Jim,

 

Techniquest’s exciting After Hours events are making an “unforgettable” return to Cardiff with time travelling fun and a live escape room set to thrill visitors.

The popular over 18s events, which allow visitors to explore the science centre at night, are making a comeback in October with an exciting line-up of evenings already announced.

On October 17, After Hours will return by delving into the futuristic world of science and technology with its highly anticipated After Hours: Into the Future night.

The evening will immerse visitors in emerging technologies and cutting-edge virtual reality and augmented reality experiences, allowing them to get a realistic glimpse into the future.

Then in December, Techniquest will be transformed into an escape room unlike any other. On December 5, Techniquest will join forces with Breakout Cardiff for the intriguing After Hours: Codebreaker event, which will challenge visitors to crack codes, unravel mysteries, and collect clues as part of the exciting evening.

In the new year, the science centre is taking a dip in the deep with its After Hours: Under the Sea evening on February 7. Exploring the wonder of the sea, visitors will be diving into ways that they can help the world’s oceans.

Techniquest CEO Lesley Kirkpatrick said visitors were in for an “unforgettable” new line-up of After Hours events, which have been sponsored once again by Admiral.

Mrs Kirkpatrick said: “We’re delighted to be working alongside Admiral for our brand-new season of After Hours events and are thrilled to be receiving their support once again this year.

“We’re constantly working to make science as accessible and fun for everyone. Our After Hours events aim to do just that, offering a combination of both learning and socialising in a relaxed format. We hope to continue the success of previous After Hours events this coming autumn.”

All After Hours events include full use of the venue’s 130 interactive exhibits and access to a fully licensed bar. Visitors will also be able to grab a bite to eat from Cleverchefs, which will be providing themed street food for each event.

Visitors are encouraged to book early to avoid disappointment as tickets are limited. For full booking information please visit – https://www.techniquest.org/plan-your-visit/after-hours/

Techniquest Planetarium project marks 50th anniversary of moon landing

By Raspberry Jim,

 

Techniquest is set to take one giant leap into space exploration thanks to a special project marking the 50th anniversary of the moon landing.

The educational charity, based in Cardiff Bay, is developing a bespoke show for the centre’s Planetarium to mark the historic event, thanks to new funding from a leading government body.

Techniquest has been awarded £6000 from the Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) to celebrate the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in 2019.

The funds will be used to develop the innovative new show, which will take visitors on a 360-degree journey through the solar system to explore the mysteries of the moon.

The funding was awarded after one of Techniquest’s science communicators, Martin Palmer-Smith, submitted the idea through its online ideas platform, Simply Do Ideas. The platform is a digital suggestion box which allows staff to pitch ideas and feedback opinions.

Following his submission, his idea was taken forward to the STFC where it received significant recognition, resulting in financial support of £6000.

It has also received a £1000 donation from Tula Trust to help deliver its school outreach programme, which reaches over 50,000 school pupils in Wales annually with its inspirational STEM-focused programmes.

Clare James, fundraising manager at Techniquest said: “We’re extremely grateful to be receiving incredible financial support from both the STFC and Tula Trust, which have both recognised the work that we’re doing to inspire the future generations of cutting-edge scientists.

“As a charity, we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals and organisations to help us on our mission to deliver interactive STEM learning experiences, to not only young children, but people of all ages.

“Thanks to STFC, we’re delighted to begin developing our public Planetarium show to mark Apollo 11’s historic anniversary. We’ll also be using our generous donation from Tula Trust to deliver inspiring outreach programmes to schools across south Wales.”

Techniquest receives charitable boost to engage young children

By Raspberry Jim,

 

Educational charity Techniquest is continuing its mission to inspire the next generation of scientists after receiving generous donations and scooping a high-profile grant.

The science discovery centre, based in Cardiff Bay, conducts inspirational school outreach programmes, reaching over 50,000 pupils in Wales annually.

Thanks to new donations from charitable trusts, its primary school outreach will enjoy significant financial support.

The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust recently selected Techniquest as one of its 140 financial beneficiaries, gifting £4,000 to the educational charity for the second year running. The donation will be used to deliver free outreach to schools in the Glamorgan area, which will see 8 schools engaged with STEM subjects.

The educational charity has also won new support from the Schroder Charity Trust, with a boost of £5,000 to its outreach for Key Stage 2 pupils in disadvantaged communities across south Wales.

With a grant of over £5,000 from the UK Space Agency, the science discovery centre will be using a portable planetarium to deliver free Starlab sessions to 1,500 primary school pupils.

The Space for All grant supports the outreach aims of the agency, encouraging the use of space as inspiration for teaching and learning and raising awareness of STEM subjects in the United Kingdom.

Clare James, fundraising manager at Techniquest said: “We’re delighted and extremely grateful to be receiving such incredible support from The Simon Gibson Charitable Trust, the Schroder Charity Trust and the UK Space Agency.

“As a charity, we rely heavily on the generosity of individuals and organisations to help us on our mission to deliver interactive STEM learning experiences.

“By taking our educational outreach programmes and Starlab in to local schools, these incredible donations will be used to inspire the future generations of cutting-edge scientists.”

Techniquest secures £3m funding for The Science Capital

By Raspberry Jim,

Techniquest has secured £3m of funding to make science more accessible to the people of Wales.

Awarded through the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Wellcome Trust’s Inspiring Science Fund, the funding means that Wales’ much-loved educational charity can move forward with its plans to radically transform its science discovery centre in Cardiff Bay.

Earlier this year, Techniquest announced plans for The Science Capital — a project which encompasses an extension of its building on Stuart Street and a repositioning exercise to extend and diversify its audiences.

Along with the new funding, the charity has match funding from Moondance Foundation, Garfield Weston Foundation, Welsh Government’s ‘Invest to Save’ fund, and Proton Partners International, meaning it now has the capital to move full steam ahead with this exciting project.

Plans will shortly be submitted for the proposed extension, which will significantly increase Techniquest’s footprint.

The expansion will provide an additional exhibition space to house brand new content, which will be developed with businesses and academics at the forefront of the STEM agenda in Wales and supported by a programme of community co-production.

The new immersive and innovative exhibition areas and experiences will help Techniquest to diversify its audiences and increase visitor numbers by at least 40%.

Lesley Kirkpatrick, CEO of Techniquest said: “We are over the moon to be awarded this funding and are grateful to BEIS and Wellcome for believing in our ambitions. It is the culmination of over a year and a half of hard work from our talented team, who are extremely passionate about this next phase in our evolution.

“It means that our plans to expand our science discovery centre and extend our offering to make science accessible to all, can progress in earnest giving our charity a new lease of life, while ensuring a sustainable and long-term future in Wales.

“We’re extremely excited about turning our exciting plans into a reality.”

Science Minister Sam Gyimah said: “We want to bring the wonders of science to as wide an audience as possible and that’s why it is at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. Today’s investment will help inspire people from across the country to learn about the truly amazing benefits that science and technology has on all our lives.”

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said: “Today’s funding announcement is a welcome boost to many science centres across the UK, and I can’t think of a more worthy recipient than Techniquest in Cardiff Bay.

“The centre is home to many fond memories of children and adults in South Wales and further afield, who were perhaps taking an interest in science and technology for the first time. This funding will allow Techniquest to leap forward in developing cutting edge STEM technology, attracting some of Wales’ sharpest science minds to take a lead role in developing our future society.”

Welsh Government’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford said: “Techniquest plays an important role in promoting science amongst young people in Wales and I am pleased that the Welsh Government has been able to support the Science Capital project through our Invest To Save Fund.”

Taking its project name from a concept conceived by academics at Kings College London, which is a measure of people’s engagement or relationship with science, through The Science Capital Techniquest is committed to creating society that is equipped to understand, question, and enjoy science.

Lesley continued: “At Techniquest, we want to grow people’s science capital by highlighting the role science plays in our everyday lives and demonstrating how STEM and innovative technologies are shaping the future of our society.

“By growing science capital in individuals and the communities of Wales, we can help more people to see science as an important part of their lives and culture, which will help broaden opportunities and access for STEM-related jobs in the future and in turn boost the Welsh economy.”

February – was the month that…

By Raspberry Jim,

…flew by!

After the world’s longest January, it seems like February has whizzed by faster than Raspberry Jim on rollerskates.

With only a few short weeks to cram in our usual busy schedules, our jammers spent the month out and about, playing Cupid, and consuming far too much sugar.

Here’s what we got up to… … Continue reading

  • 1
  • 2