All hands on deck in Cumbria, university chancellor says

The vice chancellor of the University of Cumbria says that it’s an all hands on deck situation to combat the region’s STEM skill shortage.

Freelancers and umbrella company contractors were put on notice when vice chancellor Peter Strike said that the flood of new investment into Cumbria is almost certainly to result in a massive demand for STEM workers. There’s only around 500,000 people living in the region, the vice chancellor said in a recent interview, and there’s no way the current population is going to be able to sustaiun the 90,000 engineering positions that are going to be needed.

So why Cumbria? Well there’s something like £600 million in investment that’s poured into the region from two new nuclear businesses and other related firms springing up around them. It’s easily going to exhaust Cumbria’s native engineering worker population, and that means that for these firms to be successful they’re going to have to attract interim workers from outside the region to shore up their employment figures.

Or at least until the University of Cumbria can train up a new generation of undergraduates with the skills needed to take on some of these jobs. Strike says he has shedloads of ideas on how to accomplish this, but without younger students being motivated to move into the STEM fields there’s little that can be done – you can’t exactly hold a gun to a student’s head and tell them to take applied physics and advanced maths against their will, now can you?

Still, while the university struggles to build interest in science and technology, local contractors are likely to reap the benefits of a skills vacuum within the region. In the shorter term this will likely satisfy the area’s requirements, but it’s simply a poor solution for longer-term issues, as eventually the number of freelance personnel in the region will run out of availability. It’s up to educators like Strike to get more younger Brits into employment sector quickly and reliably if Cumbria wants to flourish, if you ask me.

In the meantime, contractors in STEM fields could do worse than to look for new positions in Cumbria, don’t you agree?


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