Bridging the Skills Gap

Last week, the North East STEM HUB took part in Showcase Tees Valley and delivered a Future Skills Workshop.

A recent graduate was amongst the 200 attendees who attended the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough. Curtis Johns graduated from Northumbria University in July with a BENG(H) Mechanical Engineering class 2:1 and has been looking for employment opportunities in technical and engineering type disciplines, specifically interested in renewable energy. Curtis has since walked away with dozens of connections and links showing just how valuable the North East STEM Hub is in bridging the skills gap.

The showcase shared valuable opportunities with businesses in sectors such as Infrastructure, Advanced Manufacturing Process, Offshore and Renewable Energy, and Digital.

The North East STEM HUB in partnership with Primary Engineer delivered a Future Skills workshop where they addressed the skill shortage agenda and how important it is for the industry to access a skilled pipeline of talent as their workforce for the future.

STEM Hub Contract Manager Janine Marshall said:

“The skills session at Showcase Tees Valley engaged the audience in a long and interesting discussion about the impact of skills shortages on the future success of the regional industry. Participation and input from business leaders were fantastic and everyone reinforced the need to bridge the gap between education and industry. Through initiatives delivered by Primary Engineer and ourselves at The North East STEM Hub, we can help leaders future proof their business.

“Curtis was part of the discussion and had sat alongside and spoken at length to a fellow business leader who took the opportunity at the close of the session to encourage Curtis to deliver a quick elevator pitch and use this forum to promote himself.  Curtis did a brilliant pitch and it finished the session off on a fantastic final note. As I understand it Curtis secured three great connections and links that day so a fantastic result all round!”

Curtis Johns commented: “As a graduate mechanical engineer I am constantly on the lookout for opportunities for a possible career path within the STEM sector, when I heard about Showcase Tees Valley taking place I thought this would be an exciting way to discover more about the local companies that are conducting such innovative and compelling projects on the doorstep along with the people involved.

“RTC North did a fantastic job bringing such a wide range of STEM players to one place both big and small. My experience was made even better after getting to know a local business owner Tim Grier who after the relevant speech on implementing STEM into the curriculum at all levels, introduced me to the room full of delegates and speakers, to which I seized the opportunity on the microphone and gave an introductory speech about myself and the challenges I have faced since graduating from university. This proved priceless as I have gained dozens of new contacts as a result. I would like to thank Alan and the RTC team for such a rewarding event and everyone who gave me the time to listen to what had to say, I look forward to the next event.

Alan added: “This is a fine example to highlight the importance of the work that Janine and her team deliver through the North East STEM HUB bringing industry and regional key talent of the next generation together. I am thrilled that Showcase Tees Valley was the perfect platform to connect and encourage collaboration making new connections to not only the workforce but also supply chains. We aim to continue to bridge the skill gap felt by many businesses in the region and hope to promote this through key events in the near future.”

As skills and future skills shortage is high on the agenda of many organisations it is essential that engagement with education through STEM is encouraged. Furthermore, it is important at the primary level and beyond that engineering skills and careers are fully understood by teaching staff and given the rightful recognition that they deserve.

I will be interested in following the progress of Curtis's experiences and progress in seeking a suitable graduate engineering role ideally in the North East. We hear so often about there being a shortage of engineers and that we as a region want to educate and retain graduates in the North East.  However, many leave to find employment out of the region or follow other career paths.”

For the North East STEM HUB visit

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