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South West HE STEM Workforce Development & Employability Conference

Lead Institution: University of Bath
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South West HE STEM Workforce Development & Employability Conference - 18th June 2012

On 18th June, over 100 delegates attended the South West HE STEM Workforce Development and Employability Conference at Sandy Park, Exeter, organised by the South West regional HE STEM team who have been based at the University of Bath since 2010. 

The title of the conference was “How can industry, universities and colleges work together to upskill the workforce and increase the employability of students in science, engineering and maths?” It showcased a wide range of the HE STEM projects relating to employer engagement and workforce development that have been facilitated by the University of Bath-based South West Spoke. Since 2010, over 1.5 million pounds of funding has been used to develop projects in the South West as part of the National HE STEM Programme.

9am Delegates start to arrive...

9am Delegates start to arrive...

Delegates at the conference appreciated the variety of presentations and the opportunity the day provided for exchanging ideas with university and college staff from across the region. Feedback on the day included comments that there were "a good selection of speakers and presentations..." and the event provided "a great opportunity to listen to case studies from different universities and sharing of good practices and challenges..."

Each of the six universities in the region with significant STEM provision were well represented on the day.

Employability sessions at the University of Bath

Employability sessions at the University of Bath

As part of a presentation given by Graham Outram from the Mechanical Engineering Department who led an HE STEM project looking at the value of undergraduate projects to employers, conference delegates were particularly interested to hear from a University of Bath 4th Year Mechanical Engineering with Manufacturing and Management student, Jack Barclay. Jack talked to delegates about his experience of completing an undergraduate project at the engineering company, Parker Hannifin, in Crewkerne.  He commented that the project had given him “extremely valuable experience of managing a team of people” and that he had “thoroughly enjoyed” the challenge of coming up with solutions to the real world problem set by the employer.

The University of Exeter presented on their HE STEM project which has involved mathematics undergraduate students working with employers to make the content of their degree course more focused on the skills they need in the workplace. This project’s approach is now being adopted and adapted by five other universities across the UK.

In terms of workforce development, The Hydrographic Academy project has involved Plymouth University working closely with industry and the Royal Navy to develop an innovative distance learning programme aimed at hydrographic surveyors based on oil rigs and survey vessels thousands of miles away from the nearest college or university. To date, the team has received over 400 expressions of interest from individuals and companies across the world.

Copies of the presentations from the day can be found via the link to the SW HE STEM website at:

More information about all the projects funded in the South West can also be found on this website.

Information about the projects funded in other regions of the England and Wales as part of the National HE STEM Programme can be found at:


Staff involved