STEM leaders work together to address industry issues and pledge to take action with Cambridge LaunchPad

Thursday 7 March 2019

Nearly 50 delegates from schools and leading businesses from across Cambridgeshire gathered at Schlumberger Cambridge Research to discuss the issues facing the STEM industry and learn how Cambridge LaunchPad aims to address these in our region.

According to the Government, low skills levels are the greatest threat to UK competitiveness in the next five years, with 40,000 STEM-related jobs being left vacant each year. In addition to this, only 14.4 per cent of all people working in the STEM workforce are women and many schools are struggling to recruit teachers in STEM subjects.

Cambridge LaunchPad is a pioneering outreach initiative that brings schools and businesses together long-term to ensure young people are inspired and supported throughout their education, equipping them with the necessary skills and knowledge to move into successful careers in STEM. It is managed by Form the Future CIC, the leading provider of careers inspiration in the region, who together with the programme’s Founding Partners, Arm, Marshall Aerospace and Defence Group, Schlumberger and TTP Plc, are inviting new industry partners to join their mission and enrich the variety of STEM sectors represented.

Dr Simon Bittleston, Vice President of Research at Schlumberger, welcomed the delegates and set the scene, advising that Cambridge industries are growing faster than the UK average, so that the skills gap in STEM is a bigger issue for our region, with many industrial vacancies going unfilled. He also shared some of the problems he had experienced when trying to engage with schools to arrange an outreach day. By getting involved with LaunchPad, Schlumberger have been able to work with more children whilst minimising the time and effort spent on planning and managing events.

David Halliday, Senior Research Scientist at Schlumberger, worked closely with the Cambridge LaunchPad team to deliver an outstanding activity day for over 60 Year 5 students from King’s Hedges Primary School last year. From this, he has developed excellent project management skills and exercised his problem-solving, leadership and stress management skills. Thereby proving that this unique initiative provides so much more than just a fun day out for the children – it can enable employees to develop essential skills and give them the opportunity to share their passion for what they do.

The delegates then came together to brainstorm ways that businesses, schools and Cambridge LaunchPad can address the issues in the STEM sector, with some suggesting more should be done to empower parents to guide their children and how we can open up opportunities to young people from different backgrounds. To join Cambridge LaunchPad in our mission, and help us make these ideas a reality, visit

Sian Steele, Family Business Leader at PwC, said: "In order for Cambridge to continue to play such a vital role in solving 21st century problems we need to work together as a community of business leaders to ensure vital skills in STEM are developed and PwC is committed to playing its part. Social inclusion and fair access to opportunity are core values for us and the work that LaunchPad does to bring these to life is truly inspiring."

Tariq Sadiq, Fundraising & Development Manager at Form the Future CIC, said: “This event brought together far-sighted businesses who are committed to building a future in which every child in Cambridgeshire has the opportunity to access careers in our leading, cutting edge industries. Many children, teachers and parents are unaware of the wealth of fascinating jobs that are on offer on our doorstep and our job at Form the Future is to open their eyes to a whole world of new possibilities.”

Forthcoming Events

July 17 2019 5:00PM / 5.00-7.00pm
Summer Social & BBQ - Peterborough
July 24 2019 6:00PM / 6.00-9.00pm
Fenland Quiz and Hog Roast
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Summer Garden Party
September 2 2019 / 5.00-7.00pm
Informal Networking Evening – Huntingdon
September 4 2019 / 5.00-7.00pm
Informal Networking Evening – Stamford
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Informal Networking Evening – Ely