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Lord Sainsbury of Turville
Launch of Science Year
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I am delighted to be involved in the launch of Science Year, because I believe that it is a very important event and because it gives me an opportunity to tell you about one of the most important schemes we will be launching during Science Year - the Science and Engineering Ambassadors initiative.
If we are to really benefit from the major scientific advances taking place today, it is vitally important that all children, and especially girls, have an opportunity to pursue a career in science and technology, and that all children have an understanding of the excitement and importance of science, and the risks, benefits and values involved.
In the past we have had many excellent small-scale schemes which have inspired young people to think about a career in science and technology, but I want to make certain that all schools have the opportunity to take part in such activities.
That is why we will be starting the Science and Engineering Ambassadors initiative as part of Science Year in January next year.
Experience shows that the best people to get across the excitement of a career in science and technology are young people who are working in science and technology and who can explain the relevance of the subjects studied at school to the world of work. Many individuals and organisations know this and are already active in working with schools. We plan to strengthen and extend these activities under the Science and Engineering Ambassadors banner, so that, over time, every school in the UK can have access to enthusiastic Ambassadors.
Young people will be able to talk to the Ambassadors about their work, their lives and ambitions, and will be able to find out at first hand what a career in science and technology could offer them personally.
We believe that all parties - schools, teachers, students, employers and the Ambassadors will benefit from this opportunity.
We are currently developing and piloting the scheme, which will be delivered through the network of 53 SETPOINTS, ready for the national roll out in January 2002, working with the devolved administrations. We are developing national standards as a guarantee of quality to schools, employers and Ambassadors and we will, of course, ensure that the individuals involved meet the highest standards, are properly trained and carry the proper insurance. We expect to have 10,000 Ambassadors available when we start in January 2002.
Some of the best companies and universities in the country, such as BAE Systems, Ford, Imperial College, and Sheffield Hallam and Glasgow Universities are already engaged in this work, and we want to build on their success. That is why I am delighted to be able to announce this morning that BAE Systems, as part of its sponsorship for Science Year, will be doubling the number of is employees involved in such activities from 500 to 1000.
The message we are trying to convey to our young people is simple: a basic knowledge of science is essential to understanding the issues our society faces in the future, and studying science, technology and maths can lead to exciting, challenging and rewarding careers. And there can be no one better to convey this message than other young people who already have careers in science and technology, and can speak from first hand experience of the excitement and importance of science.
(the following are available from the archive)