The Growth Company: creating a strong STEM workforce for the future

Today, the Chancellor announced plans to invest £125m into apprenticeships and new jobs within STEM industries. As I’ve highlighted previously, the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors are facing a growing skills gap, so it’s going to be a welcome boost that will help to create a strong workforce going forward.

The importance of mentoring

In addition to the £125m, a further £30m will be set aside to establish mentoring partnerships between big businesses and smaller companies. Here at the Growth Company, this is something we’re already proud to be leading on.

The Greater Manchester mentoring programme, delivered by GC Business Growth Hub, has gone from strength to strength. Both mentees and mentors have reported the benefits of the programme, and in the last 12 months alone we have supported over 130 mentoring relationships.

We’re also piloting an initiative with our Birmingham counterpart to help close the UK’s productivity gap. The programme matches regional manufacturing firms with industry leaders (including BAE Systems, Siemens, Sharing in Growth and GSK) to help drive productivity gains and boost economic growth. And the reason we’re so passionate about mentoring is simple: if lower performing businesses are supported to make even modest improvements in productivity, a further £130 billion could be added to the UK economy each year.

Another way in which we’re contributing to a better future for STEM industries is by managing the North West Made Smarter pilot programme in collaboration with our partner LEPs and Growth Hubs. The pilot aims to increase the uptake of digital technology solutions among manufacturing companies and their supply chains. As an organisation, we believe innovation needs to be embraced at all levels to meet future demands, and to provide great employment opportunities for those entering the world of work and those already in it.

Boosting STEM skills through apprenticeships

As for apprenticeships, we already work with a number of prestigious businesses across STEM industries to train and develop the talent of tomorrow. Whether it’s encouraging more women to take up an apprenticeship within a STEM sector or engaging with young people to show them what a STEM career could mean for them, we’re making a difference every day.

And given that Philip Hammond has also announced that there will be changes to the apprenticeship Levy transfer facility (rising from 10% to 25%), we’re also glad to have a fantastic Levy team who are on hand to advise STEM businesses on how to make the most of their funds as a tool to recruit or upskill staff. Levy gifting will no doubt also help smaller businesses to invest in their talent pool.

The battle to bridge the gap in STEM skills is far from over, but this latest investment and proposed change to the Levy transfer is welcome. And, as an organisation, we will continue to do whatever we can to create a skilled workforce that will futureproof the sector.