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Space Industry Skills Gap

Volume 745: debated on Wednesday 21 February 2024

Delivering a national space strategy is a key priority for me and the Department. I recognise that a strong space workforce is critical to this, and my hon. Friend will be pleased to know that we will be publishing a space workforce action plan later this year.

I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his answer and for his work on this. He knows, as I do, that the innovation economy in this country is creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs. Indeed, 500,000 are forecast over the next 10 years in space, agritech, cleantech engineering and bio, in clusters all around the country, as the recent cluster map showed. Will he ensure that the excellent Department for Education future skills unit liaises closely with the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology cluster team to make sure that we are properly building the job creation plans into the local skills improvement plans on the ground?

My hon. Friend has done so much to advance the interests of skills in the sector during his many years of public service, and he is quite right to draw attention to the successful cluster map that was launched by the Secretary of State 10 days ago. The development of skills is a shared responsibility between Government and industry and we take our responsibilities in that respect very seriously.

I want to put on record my thanks to the hon. Member for Mid Norfolk (George Freeman) for having taken the Sutherland spaceport to where it is. It is now well under way. Does the Minister agree that the skills we have at Dounreay and at the nearby Thurso College could play a large part in making this a centre of excellence for space launch?

I do agree with the hon. Gentleman. This is a very exciting moment in UK space, and he has long championed the cause of his own constituents in that respect. I look forward to this year being a very successful year for him and the whole space supply chain, and inspiring a future generation locally.