Businesses’ talent boost at The Big Bang Fair

More than half of UK jobs reliant on engineering industry. The Big Bang Fair showcases career opportunities to young people on Budget Day

Budget Day sees top UK companies on a mission to encourage more young people to work in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in order to bridge the skills gap and boost productivity.

Some of the nation’s largest firms, including BAE Systems, GSK, National Grid, Rolls Royce, Shell and Siemens, hope to inspire future talent at The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair which opens in Birmingham today. The government has also recently announced a record £26.3bn investment in UK science. [1]

Figures from the Engineering UK 2016 report reveal that engineering is 68% more productive than the retail and wholesale sector; 14.5 million jobs are supported by the engineering industry (55% of all UK employment); and in the past ten years, engineering-related apprentices alone have generated £12bn for the UK economy.[2]

With engineering companies projected to need 182,000 people with engineering skills each year, and insufficient numbers coming through with the appropriate skills and qualifications, The Big Bang Fair is an opportunity to inspire more young people to continue with the subjects that are vital to jobs in engineering, technology and science.

At the heart of the drive to inspire the next generation are future requirements in exciting new industries. The Engineering UK report shows that agricultural science and technology, engineering in retail, new-wave construction, renewables and digital and creative sector are rapidly expanding.

Paul Jackson, Chief Executive of EngineeringUK, commented:

“Engineering is a growth industry that has the potential to continue to drive productivity in the UK. This is a great opportunity, tempered only by concern about the need to inspire many more young people to stick with science and maths subjects in school.

“The Big Bang Fair brings alive the science and maths young people learn in the classroom, showing them real-life applications and showcasing the career opportunities these subjects open up through exciting and interactive activities. I urge parents to bring their children to the NEC, Birmingham to enjoy first-hand the fun of the fair and find out what exciting careers their studies could lead to”

Erik Bonino, Chairman, Shell UK, added:

“Our business relies on talented scientists and engineers to remain innovative and competitive. More widely, STEM skills have a vital role to play in meeting one of the world’s biggest challenges: meeting growing demand for energy, in a sustainable way.

“Through the Big Bang Fair we hope to inspire more young minds to develop bright energy ideas that put the UK at the forefront of technological innovation. As part of Shell’s ongoing work with schools, this event is an important opportunity to help young people explore the opportunities that STEM subjects and careers can offer.”

Tony Moloney, Head of Education & Skills, National Grid, said:

“Engineers make an enormous contribution to the UK economy and they play a leading role in developing solutions to serious global challenges, such as climate change and the clean and affordable supply of energy into the future.

“Fulfilling this huge potential depends on opening the eyes of young people to the exciting possibilities of an engineering career, so it’s something that’s high on the agenda at National Grid as we create new opportunities for apprentices and graduates. It’s our schools that will produce tomorrow’s engineers, so we’re working closely with them to get the UK’s students ready for work.”

Nigel Whitehead, Group Managing Director, Programmes and Support, BAE Systems:

“Apprentices are vitally important to the future of our business. We are committed to developing the skills needed in our sector as well as standards for apprentice training across the UK. Our apprentices enjoy not only high quality training but real hands-on experience, working on the cutting-edge products that safeguard our national security now and for years to come.”

The Big Bang Fair is free and runs from Wednesday 16 March to Saturday 19 March. Schools will be attending on Wednesday-Friday, with families encouraged to come on Saturday 19 March, for a day of hands-on activities and interactive shows and a chance to find out more about future career opportunities. For more information and tickets, go to:


Notes to editors

For more information, please contact:

Monica Wilson – 07789 070 072 /

[1] BIS announcement, 4 March 2016

[2] The Engineering UK 2016 The State of Engineering report is available at

About The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair

The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Fair is the largest celebration of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for young people in the UK. It takes place from 16-19 March 2016 at The NEC, Birmingham, and will celebrate and raise the profile of young people’s achievement in science and engineering and encourage more young people to take part in science, technology, engineering and maths initiatives and consider careers in these areas, with support from their parents and teachers.

School groups are invited to visit the first three days of The Big Bang Fair and families on the Saturday, in particular parents and carers of 11-14 year olds. Young people will leave enlightened about how science and engineering feature in everything they wear, eat and do. A number of apprentice, graduate and experienced engineers and scientists will be on hand to quiz and young people will have the opportunity to discover how science and maths can lead to a great career.

The Big Bang Fair hosts the finals of the prestigious National Science + Engineering Competition.

EngineeringUK - is an independent organisation that promotes the vital contribution of engineers, engineering and technology in our society. EngineeringUK partners business and industry, government and the wider science and engineering community: producing evidence on the state of engineering, sharing knowledge within engineering and inspiring young people to choose a career in engineering through programmes Tomorrow’s Engineers and The Big Bang.

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