The UK is one of the most important countries in the world for chemical science, but that reputation is intrinsically tied to having a strong pipeline of homegrown talent. That this pipeline looks to be slowing because pupils don’t know what career options come from studying chemistry is a matter of significant concern for a number of sectors deemed crucial to the country’s economy.
Chemistry is worth at least £50bn a year to the UK economy and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs – it is a critical function in multiple industries, from business and enterprise to technology, innovation and engineering.
From finding solutions to climate change and decarbonising transport to finding new drugs or even creating novel materials to herald a new era of technology; chemistry is too important to let slide.
All of us within the industry have a duty to help young people discover the value and excitement of chemistry and its many and varied career paths – Government has recognised the need for trained scientists to join the UK workforce and the value of the skills they bring to our economy. What is urgently needed is a clear strategy and action plan to articulate the diversity and excitement of a career in chemistry as well as the wider science community to our young people.
We in industry recognise our responsibility on this front, so we urge our government, academy trusts and local authorities to join us in taking concerted action to reverse this worrying trend. This should be through clear communication, careers advice and inspiring experiences that create the road map for the talented chemical scientists of the future to follow.
Danièle Gibney, Education Policy Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry
Dr Sally Jones, Director, Corporate Communications, Johnson Matthey Plc
Dr Geoff Mackey, Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Director, BASF Plc
Dr Catherine Priestley, Head of BioPharmaceuticals R&D Corporate Affairs, AstraZeneca