The STEM Exchange is part of the wider STEM Alliance project established by Semta and commissioned and funded by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).
The STEM Exchange acts as a matching service bringing together individual teachers and tutors from colleges, private training providers and education charities involved in Further Education (FE) with employers within their area who have agreed to support in professional development activities.
These development activities can be as simple as 1-2-1 meetings or telephone calls focused on specific subjects; to running in-house training programmes aimed at providing up to date occupational competence.
The need for the STEM Exchange derives from employer feedback about the quality and relevance of training delivered by the FE sector. As these key areas of the UK economy move quickly in response to changes in technology and international market pressure, those tasked with teaching new entrants can become quickly disconnected with the most recent developments.
The effect of this can be felt in the skills gap reported by employers. The Royal Academy of Engineering reports the need for 160,000 engineers, scientists and technicians by 2020, this does not factor in the effects of an ageing workforce and international brain drain.
Employers are critical in helping those tasked with reducing this skills gap, in doing so they contribute to improving their own competiveness, economic sustainability and growth.