As always it is a pleasure to be here this evening, and can I say how delighted I am to see Alan Cook and Rob Margetts here tonight. They do a wonderful job for the Society as mentors, and their presence here gives me the opportunity to thank them for all they do for the Society.
The Sainsbury Management Fellows Scheme was set up in 1987 so it has been going for some twenty-five years, and I thought it might be interesting this evening just to briefly review the progress that has been made over that period.
The reason I set up the Sainsbury Management Fellows Scheme was my strong belief that in order to improve the UK’s economic performance it was necessary to have more people at the top of British companies with an engineering background. To be able to make good strategic decisions at the top of a company it is necessary, I believe, to understand both the technology and the customers of a business, and that for a whole range of businesses this can only be done by people who have an engineering background.
If one looks at the figures for the scheme then we have made a lot of progress. 60 Fellows own, have started up, or run, their own businesses, spanning a wide range of markets- heavy engineering/manufacturing, internet and web, biotechnology, wireless/telecoms and sustainability. 100 Fellows are working in senior positions in FTSE Companies, and 15 are directors of FTSE 100 companies, although not all at main board level. This is, I believe, an excellent outcome of the first twenty-five years of the scheme, but we still have a long way to go.
There are also signs elsewhere that more and more people are beginning to understand that science and technology are key to our economic future. I think it is encouraging that the government is now strongly supporting the setting up of University Technical Colleges. Two are already open, the JCB Academy and the Black Country UTC, with another 17 in the pipeline. The UTCs are reflecting the needs of local employers in the technical training that they are offering. For example, the Plymouth UTC will specialize in Advanced Manufacturing and Marine Engineering. The programme is being driven forward energetically by Kenneth Baker who is aiming to secure backing to expand the number of UTCs to 100 or more in the coming years.
Also as a result of the setting up of the STEM ambassadors scheme, the STEM Clubs, the Big Bang Fair and the revival of GCSE triple science in England we are seeing a remarkable increase in the number of young people doing ‘A’ level STEM subjects, with an increase over the period 2006 to 2011 of 17% for the biological sciences, 25% for chemistry, 3% for physics, 52% for mathematics and 75% for Further Mathematics. The number of young people doing Triple Science has also gone up from 43,000 in 2005 to 134,000 in 2011. These are excellent figures.