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STEM Careers

Volume 597: debated on Thursday 2 July 2015

14. What steps the Government are taking to encourage more girls and women to take up careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. (900711)

We want girls to be able to choose from the broadest range of careers. The new careers and enterprise company will support greater engagement between employers, schools and colleges to ensure girls get the inspiration and guidance they need to succeed in working life. Parents also have an important role to play through publications such as “Your daughter’s future”.

I thank my right hon. Friend for her answer. In my rural constituency of Boston and Skegness, science and technology plays an ever more important part in agriculture. What opportunities are we taking to make sure that the doors opened to women and girls by studying science and technology are obvious in the rural economy in particular?

I welcome my hon. Friend to his place; I do not think I have heard him speak in the Chamber before. He is absolutely right: rural areas contribute £210 billion to the UK economy. The Government are funding the UK Commission for Employment and Skills to work with private sector employers to support those in low-paid, low-skilled work into higher-paid, higher-skilled work. In phase 1, that funding has supported more than 200 women, who are under-represented in agriculture, land-based engineering and environmental conservation industries.

In Northern Ireland, we have identified a number of job opportunities in engineering that young women have taken up alongside young men. That is because further education and secondary education have worked together to identify where there will be vacancies. What have this Minister and other Ministers done to identify vacancies here, and to give such people those jobs?

The hon. Gentleman is absolutely right: this is about giving young people early advice and guidance on the opportunities that are available to them, and about making sure that no options are shut off. That is why I announced just before Christmas the creation of and our backing for a careers and enterprise company. I was delighted to announce in yesterday’s debate that Claudia Harris will be the new chief executive.