The importance of science, engineering and on-going development of occupational skills to Britain's long-term prosperity was the focus of a major forum involving 200 leading industrialists, educationalists and government departments held recently in London.

The forum, which was held in the presence of HRH the Duke of Kent, was organised and sponsored by BOC, with support from The Science, Engineering, Technology and Mathematics Network (SETNET), The Industry and Education Partnership Forum.

According to BOC the day brought together some of the UK\\$quot;s leading educational sponsors and thinkers to explore how young people in the UK can be encouraged to follow manufacturing industry careers.

At a time when manufacturers are struggling to fill skills gaps and enrolment for science courses has fallen, the forum proved an opportunity for delegates to air common concerns and ideas to strengthen science, engineering, technology and maths (STEM subjects) \\$quot;“ that remain at the core of British industry.

BOC director Gordon Brown said: \\$quot;Without the right mix and emphasis on education at all levels \\$quot;“ secondary, tertiary and occupational \\$quot;“ the UK will not harness and sustain the talents it so needs to maintain competitiveness on the world stage.

"The real value of building relationships between people in industry and education is that it helps maintain and strengthen the talent pool that we have in the UK today."

HRH, the Duke of Kent echoed these sentiments, saying: "It is essential that we keep strengthening the links between industry and education \\$quot;“ and this forum took a hard look at how these could be improved.

"Britain has an extraordinary industrial, scientific, technological heritage but we need to keep building on that. Manufacturing and process industries are of huge importance to our future prosperity \\$quot;“ and they rely heavily on a motivated, qualified and focused workforce \\$quot;“ of graduates, post-graduates and others who progress through occupation development schemes."