With the Six Nations Rugby in full swing, I was chatting to a friend about how Rugby caters for all types of people within its framework. There are roles and positions for tall and short, light and fast, heavy and strong, those fleet of foot and those dogged and robust. All encompassed within the sphere of the game of Rugby. My friend commented that he couldn’t think of another place that catered for such diversity.
“Not true” I replied.
The areas of Science and Engineering are very much the same – with room for people who are detail focussed and love the minutiae; or for those who prefer ‘blue sky thinking’, problem solving and being creative. For people who enjoy the regular day to day activities in a lab, an office or an industrial site or thrive in an ever changing environment where no two days are the same.
There is room for people who are prepared to challenge the status quo and look for ways to work smarter – not just harder. Some are natural team players; others are more specialist and take a single minded, focussed approach in their work. Finally of course, as in Rugby, you need the captain of the team to marshal his or her squad to the ultimate goal.
Science and engineering can, and does, appeal to all manner of different people.
The UK has always been a World Leader in the fields of science and engineering, from Isaac Newton and Michael Faraday to Stephen Hawking and Jocelyn Bell Burnell, from George Stephenson and IK Brunel to Tim Berners Lee and Helen Sharman.
Our Universities continue to carry out world-leading research in areas such as medicine, metallurgy, space exploration and quantum mechanics to name a few – developing solutions that form the basis of new innovations in many diverse sectors.
It is from these acorns that the oaks of the final products grow – whether that is a new drug for use in medicine or material for construction, new techniques for manufacture or surgery, up-scaling of pilot plants to full production scale, improvements in energy efficiency and reductions in waste etc. All these successes in turn create job opportunities and provide employment for hundreds of thousands of people – both directly and indirectly.
It is therefore imperative that we remain at the top of the table of leading scientists and engineers.
For this to happen, children must be inspired to study science and engineering at school. They must be encouraged to study triple science at GCSE and sciences and maths at A-level, and then undertake degree courses that nurture those talents and interests and turn those young aspiring students into the champions of tomorrow.
UKIP recognises the importance of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine to the future success of this country which is why we propose to remove tuition fees for students taking approved degrees in these subjects (as long as they live, work and pay tax in the UK for five years after the completion of their degree).
We believe that incentives such as this will lead to an increase in pupils taking STEM subjects at all levels, giving life to the modern day Charles Darwins and Frank Whittles and driving a more prosperous future for us all.