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North East growth 'needs science students'

Chemistry paraphernalia
Date 13 Aug 2007

Students are to be encouraged to study subjects such as chemistry

A ‘golden carrot’ bursary of £1,000 a year should be given to science and engineering undergraduates as part of a plan to double the proportion of students taking these subjects, the Confederation of British Industry said yesterday.

The business group warned that action is needed to reverse a decades-long decline in the study of science, technology, engineering and maths ('STEM') subjects and meet the needs of a changing UK economy.

Sarah Green, Regional Director, CBI North East said: “Too many potential scientists and engineers are abandoning these subjects at an early stage in their lives and missing out on rewarding, varied and lucrative career options. Some employers are already finding it difficult to get the right talent, and the problem is set to get worse. The North East cannot compete with the developing world on low-skilled jobs, so to thrive in the global market we must excel in the higher-skilled roles that demand expertise and innovation.

"The North East has a history of excellent engineering and science innovation, Durham and Newcastle Universities have excellent science credentials and the region's public sector is pinning its hopes on science led regeneration through Newcastle Science City. If we are to reach our region's potential we need to ensure that we have young people with an appetite and ability for science."

Sarah Stewart, Director of Newcastle Science City said: "Challenging the way science is taught at an early stage and presenting STEM subjects as attractive career paths is central to Newcastle Science City's Education and Public engagement strand. "If we are to enable long-term change and bring significant benefits for education and scientific achievement we need to look now at raising the confidence, ambition and abilities of future generations."

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