Below is the text of the speech made by Elizabeth Truss, the Childcare Minister, at the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham on 13th March 2014.
Thank you for that welcome it’s fantastic to be at the Big Bang Fair.
What a range of stalls and activities you’re about to see. From extracting the DNA of a blueberry to building a satellite – you’re in for a treat!
I’m very intrigued by the fact there’s even something claiming to be “the most disgusting show on Earth!”
This is a great celebration of science and maths and where they can get you – the answer is they can get you everywhere.
From fashion to farming, from Snap Fashion’s underlying algorithm to the latest agricultural technology – if you want to launch the next Facebook or be big in the city, it all starts here.
It’s not just exciting, it’s important for career prospects. Maths commands the highest earnings premium in the jobs market, science and tech occupations earn 19% more than other professions.
The OECD has said that half the gender pay gap is down to less use of problem-solving – these are key skills developed in maths and science.
It’s so important that we get more young people studying and enjoying these subjects, particularly young girls.
I’m pleased to say that we’re going in the right direction:
– record number of students taking maths and science A levels
– record number of girls taking GCSE physics – an important precursor of engineering
And I’m pleased to say that a new report on attitudes to science which is being published by BIS tomorrow shows an increasing understanding of the importance of science.
In 2008 fewer than a third strongly agreed that young people’s interest in science was essential for our future prosperity. Now in 2014, more than half think that.
You here at the Big Bang Fair are the trend-setters!