A NEW awards system has been launched in York to encourage children to pursue careers in engineering and technology and prevent a huge shortfall of engineers in the UK.

UK STEM - a specialist company based in Market Weighton, which works with schools and industry to promote science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) - is launching a special awards system to help plug this gap, and an official launch took place at the UK STEM Centre at the University of York today.

Mike Cargill, UK STEM MD, said encouraging more young people into engineering and technology careers was critical to the success of many UK firms.

His firm has joined forces with the University of Wolverhampton and technology firm Mindsets Online to develop the Global STEM Award system for schools.

Mr Cargill said: “We are providing a framework to help both teachers and students understand the connection between STEM activities and the influence that they have in the real world.

“Our aim is to nurture interest in science, technology, engineering and maths from primary school onwards. Our system will motivate students to complete a range of exciting STEM projects and present them with awards that they can be proud of.

“Students will gain bronze, silver and gold awards by completing a variety of projects. This will take them on a journey across the seven continents of the world, as well as space and marine, to enrich their understanding of different cultures and eco-systems.

“The projects will fire their imagination and show them how STEM based skills can be used to make a real difference to people’s lives.”

He added: “There is going to be a huge demand for graduates with STEM skills in the very near future but forecasts predict a worrying shortfall which will have a detrimental impact on individual companies and the UK economy.

“By taking part in the Global STEM Awards programme students will gain an understanding of the careers available to them using STEM skills and qualifications and hopefully set them on a path to a career that will benefit them and UK industry.

“We are looking forward to working with schools across the UK and with companies who may wish to sponsor these awards in their area.”

The Engineering UK 2018 report shows that the UK economy will create more than 1.2 million jobs in the engineering sector in coming years but the lack of qualified graduates will leave a shortfall of up to 59,000 candidates a year.