The STEM forum

The City of Plymouth has unveiled its blueprint for how it will drive forward the development of expertise in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) – and establish itself as the South West’s leading city in the field.

The STEM Plymouth Strategic Plan has been developed in partnership across private, public, naval and third sectors, and outlines how important science and technology is to the prosperity of the city, and how attracting and retaining more talent will be key to improving productivity.

The launch of the plan coincided with an official visit from Lord Lucas, who formally announced that Plymouth would be one of just five cities to be involved in a pilot project with the Digital Policy Alliance, a cross party initiative to drive and enhance the use of technology within the workforce, improving knowledge and skills, creating resilience and increasing productivity as a result.

Lord Lucas met representatives from Plymouth City Council, the University of Plymouth, and a host of other figures from commerce, academia, local government, education and the Royal Navy. Lord Lucas was accompanied by Philip Virgo, Advisory Board Member at the Digital Policy Alliance, and Specialist Advisor to the government’s Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee.

Professor Kevin Jones, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Plymouth, and Chair of the STEM Forum, said:

“Plymouth’s vision is to become a thriving, innovative international ocean city with science, technology, engineering and maths driving the region’s growth and productivity. Together, we have developed the STEM strategic plan to help to secure Plymouth’s future, building strength in the city’s STEM economy, STEM education and STEM research. The digital sector is an important element of that transformational focus, so we’re delighted to be working with the DPA on one of its new skills partnerships.” 

The visit of Lord Lucas and Philip Virgo began with a meeting at Council Chambers, where they spoke with city leaders including Edward Coley, Head of Skills and Employability at the Council, and Michael Dieroff, Managing Director of Bluescreen IT. 

They then travelled to the University to meet with a number of academics, including those working in cyber security and ocean engineering, as well as leaders in further and secondary-level education. They also attended the STEM Forum at which the strategic plan was officially launched.

Council Leader Ian Bowyer said: 

“Plymouth is a significant player in STEM excellence nationally and internationally and we continue to invest in our STEM infrastructure. Driving forward our offer around science, technology, engineering and maths is a priority area not just for the Council but also our partners across the city and the region. That is why I am so pleased we have been able to come together on this new STEM Plymouth Strategic Plan which aims to grow, keep and attract STEM talent in the South West. This is a very exciting time for the employment and skills agenda right across Plymouth and the Peninsula.”

The pilot projects cover a variety of areas, including regional skills partnerships and cybersecurity skills partnerships, and all represent a response to the question of whether government support for addressing current and future skills needs can be better channelled. More details of the pilot project involving Plymouth will be announced in due course.

Philip Virgo added: 

“We are delighted to be visiting Plymouth, today, to formally announce the launch of this new pilot project with the Digital Policy Alliance. What has particularly impressed us is the way that partners from different sectors of the local community have committed to working with one another across boundaries, to develop the digital skills we urgently need in the UK. It is one of the few examples in the country to exhibit such a joined-up approach to addressing the STEM agenda.”