At the British Science Association (BSA), our work proactively seeks to engage with audiences who are underrepresented in, and underserved by, the science sector. We are pleased to see that some of the action points outlined in the 12 missions strongly align with recommendations emerging from our programmes in the past 18 months.
Within the education mission, the Education Secretary is establishing a new Future Skills Unit which will look at the data and evidence of where skills gaps exist and in what industries.
The first inquiry report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Diversity & Inclusion in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) on equity in STEM education called on the Minister for Education to set up a Commission for Future STEM Skills to set a clear strategy to improve Britain’s productivity and enable all citizens to fulfil their potential. The BSA provides the secretariat for this APPG.
It is very encouraging that this recommendation is being cast so wide, beyond STEM skills, championing the diversity of talent and abilities in society. The APPG report highlights the importance to support young people in particular, and consider every stage of the education pathway when identifying policies and measures to reduce inequity and loss of opportunity.
The research and development mission aims to raise public investment outside the south-east of England by 40%.
Throughout For Thought discussions and events during 2021, leaders from a wealth of sectors expressed the need for a place-sensitive approach in investment to address the stark inequalities in the UK. The BSA’s 'Build better' report called on the Government to shift focus beyond the ‘golden triangle’ of Oxford, Cambridge and London, and share the benefits of research and innovation among different communities.
The second inquiry carried out by the APPG on D&I in STEM investigated equity in the STEM workforce. On concluding that there was significant inequity and less diversity in STEM than in the wider workforce, the Group called on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to form a Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Board to support the formation of the Research & Development People and Culture strategy, consult with minoritised groups and STEM leavers and ensure accountability.
The mission demonstrates a commitment to combat the imbalance of economic activity geographically, which is welcome; however the BSA believes that, through the levelling up agenda, the Government should seek to reach and encourage involvement of a diversity of people and communities that is representative of the population.
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