Written Evidence Submitted by Professor Lucy Berthoud on behalf of members of the Space Universities Network and colleagues at the University of Bristol Aerospace Department

(SPA0088)

Professor Berthoud is the Co-Chair of the Space Universities Network, a group of 90+ academics from 39 Universities that teach space subjects around the UK. She is also a member of the Space Skills Advisory Panel for the UK Space Agency.

In this response I provide recommendations and evidence for the ‘skills and diversity’ terms of reference set out in the consultation.

 

Paragraph 1: Interest in space “Peake”ing

Interest in space amongst STEM and other students in the UK has increased dramatically over the past 5 years due to the ‘Tim Peake’ effect (our UK astronaut), private sector exploration (Space X and Virgin Galactic type missions), and the prospect of spaceports opening in the UK. Many young people perceive the industry as an exciting and attractive area in which to work. This sector offers jobs of high added value and keeps highly skilled people in the country and offers an exciting area for growth for the UK.

Evidence:

Recommendations

 

Paragraph 2: Space needs everyone!

Space today is more than STEM skills, it requires marketing, financial and business skills. Other countries are already ahead of the UK in providing new courses to attract both early- and mid-careers business staff into the sector.

Evidence:

Recommendations

 

Paragraph 3: Skills gap in the Space Industry at Degree +5 years level

As discussed in the ‘Space sector skills survey’ from 2020 [2], recent growth in the sector has placed stress on skills supply and there is a lack of resources in the many new small space businesses to supply internal training. Evidence shows that the space industry has sky-high expectations of recruits and pay within the sector does not reflect skill level at the Degree+5yrs stage. All of this means that a perfect storm at Degree+5 years level has arisen, with companies forced to ‘poach’ from each other rather than drawing from outside the sector.

Evidence:

Recommendations

 

 

 

Paragraph 4: Women and Ethnic minorities are under-represented in the Space sector

 

Whilst the industry recruits easily across cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities, the number of women employed in the industry is under-representative of the working age female population. Female recruitment suffers from the historically lower proportions of girls and young women studying STEM subjects in schools and colleges.

 

Evidence:

 

Recommendations

 

References:

[1] Times Higher Education 13th May 2021 “Space Programmes rocket to fill demand.

[2] https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/space-sector-skills-survey-2020-research-report

[3] House of Commons Transport Committee: The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the aviation sector - Second Report of Session 2019–21

[4] Space Skills Alliance and Space Growth Partnership’s Space Skills Advisory Panel: First results from the 2020 space census

 

(June 2021)