Festival focus on job options for the young

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A festival to celebrate science, technology, engineering and maths has been launched to open young people’s eyes to big job opportunities.

Crawley STEMfest is an annual event, which first took place last year, and aims to encourage young people to take an interest in subjects that have lost their popularity.

This year’s events will take place throughout May and June in schools and various centres in the town.

The festival was launched with a comedy night at Lok’n’Store, in Manor Royal on March 13.

Around 100 local employers and teachers attended the networking event and enjoyed the ‘It IS rocket science’ comedy show by the award-winning comedian Helen Keen.

Jo McKinney, STEM Sussex project manager, said Crawley had many job opportunities within the four subject areas.

She said: “Local employers are so keen for graduates and apprentices with skills in science, technology, engineering and maths.

“We want these children to know that these opportunities are available to them. If they study these subjects an exciting future really is open to them.”

Around 1,000 children from 12 schools in Crawley were involved in the activities provided during last year’s festival. This year organisers hope to reach out to even more.

Jo explained why the subjects are so important.

She said: “Recent reports have shown that a lack of these sorts of graduates may be directly preventing an economic recovery.

“Crawley has a need for these types of skills, and yet so much of their workforce is commuting in.”

Jo believes preconceptions and stereotypes associated with the subjects have caused children to lose interest in them.

She said: “We’re hoping that by promoting STEM we can show teachers and parents that there are many job opportunities, including very well paid ones, right on their doorsteps.”

The festival finale will be a Big Bang South East event in July.

When this event was held last year, around 2,000 young people attended and enjoyed interactive activities, shows and workshops, at the Hawth.