The ‘STEM in Aviation’ Day was organised by London City Airport in partnership with the East London Business Alliance (ELBA), with senior speakers from the East London airport joined by top representatives from Accenture.
In 2015 the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) found that 43% of vacancies in STEM roles are hard to fill due to a shortage of applicants with the required skills, with further research this year from King’s College London demonstrating that science capital is unevenly socially spread and is strongly concentrated in more privileged social groups.
Robert Halfon MP, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister, said:
“I am passionate about giving every person, regardless of background or ability, a ladder of opportunity to get on in their chosen career.
“It is fantastic to see employers like London City Airport putting on events like the ‘STEM in Aviation’ Day. This will help to inspire students and ensure we develop the skilled workforce that employers need now and in the future.”
Liam McKay, Head of Public Affairs and CSR at London City Airport, said:
“Our aim is to inspire students to continue their interest and increase their skills in STEM subjects, enabling them in the long term to take on some of the key jobs which are essential to the UK economy.
“London City Airport’s passenger proposition for short arrival and departure times is underpinned by the technology solutions, and with construction of an expanded airport set to begin next year, we have a business responsibility to help encourage the next generation of STEM professionals.”
During the industry presentations, pupils heard from airport staff about noise monitoring and its cutting-edge live passenger information technology, which is provided by Greenwich start-up, CrowdVision. Accenture also presented details of its facial recognition technology, which is improving efficiencies at airports through its adoption in biometric passports and e-gates.
The sessions were followed by several group challenges to test their ability to work together and solve technical problems with an aviation theme, with the final challenge to develop a concept for a new aviation-related app or technology.
The winning team came from Walthamstow School for Girls, who suggested an app that was designed to help passengers with disabilities, such as autism, navigate airports and to familiarise themselves with the travelling experience. Pupils from Barking Abbey School were runners-up.
Kate, a pupil from Walthamstow School for Girls, said:
“We learnt so many things about different careers in STEM, and how they relate to aviation. The presentation really helped me develop my skills and present my ideas clearly when talking in front of people, especially large crowds.”
The other schools which took part were Lister Community School, St Paul’s Way Trust School, Langdon Park School, Lammas School, Thomas Tallis School, Eastbury Comprehensive School, Caterham High School and Mayfield School, along with a cohort from the Havering Education Business Partnership’s Pupil Referral Unit.