The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP) found that despite the recession and high unemployment across the EU since 2008 that demand for Science and Engineering Professionals has remained resilient with employment 12% higher in 2013 than in 2000. This employment growth is forecast to continue with an increase of 6.5% between 2013 and 2025. However Eurostat analysis shows the numbers of students graduating university with STEM qualification has not grown to match this across the EU in recent years . For example in the UK the SEMTA 2015 Skills Vision Report shows that, between now and 2020, the UK will need a total of 256,000 Science Engineering and Technology Professionals (SET) each year and there is an average of 182,000 engineering vacancies yearly needing to be filled but only about 23,000 engineers graduate every year.
There are multiple organisations, professional bodies and charities which run STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) programmes throughout the UK from formal teacher led initiatives such as Researchers in Residents (Wellcombe Trust) though to formal and non-formal clubs and events such as STEMNET and Imagineering Clubs. And yet Parliamentary POST-NOTE 430 March 2013 states that current STEM initiatives need to widen their participation and recent research suggests that the current approach of targeting secondary school children may in fact be too late as gender barriers and stereotypes are firmly in place and that students who do not have STEM aspirations by age 10 are unlikely to develop them as they get older (ASPIRE Project).
The purpose of the INSPIRE Group is to be a hub for Universities, Charities, Businesses and other organisations to communicate and collaborate on providing a joined up approach to STEAM initiatives in the UK, both inside and outside the classroom, with a particular focus on awakening the interest of primary school children and young people to build their STEAM ambitions and knowledge of career opportunities, along with development courses for teachers and parents.