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The 7 Continents Challenge: Promoting STEM Learning

Jonny Short, the Stem-Flyer

Aviation is lucky enough to cover all of the four STEM topics; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics under one sector, so why is the UK falling behind other countries with 8 out of 10 STEM businesses (89%) finding it difficult to hire staff with the relevant skills?

According to a recent aviation industry survey regarding STEM careers, the world as it currently stands will require 790,000 new civil aviation pilots, 754,000 new maintenance technicians, and 890,000 new cabin crew to fly and maintain the world’s aircraft fleet over the next 20 years - an astonishing figure. So why is there such a deficit?

The national problem with STEM recruitment in the UK is compounded by a lack of awareness of the opportunities and support that are available in the aviation industry for potential STEM focused graduates. Add this to the lack of clear pipelines that are available into many aviation careers and the lack of appropriate training initiatives with the niche requirements that some jobs in the aviation sector require, and it is no wonder why we have such a deficit.

Traditionally, some technical areas in the industry relied on recruiting skilled personnel from the armed forces. However, some organisations have highlighted that this too has become more difficult than it was in the past due to the reduced numbers of service personnel being recruited by the UK military.

Because of this lack of STEM professionals, we are seeing a trend of demand outpacing the supply, forcing UK employers to look towards outsourcing from overseas to fulfil STEM roles due to post-secondary schools having too few ‘homegrown’ graduates, leading to the UK lagging far behind our European neighbours in the field.

To try to break down these barriers and the misconceptions based around a career in an aviation related field, on the 24th July 2020 from Farnborough International Air Show, with the support of the APPG-GA, the RAeS and STEM Learning, the STEM-FLYER 7 Continents Challenge will take-off on a mission designed to inspire a sense of wonder and excitement in potential STEM pupils globally. The trip will see Jonny Short (The Stem-Flyer) visiting all 7 Continents and over 30 countries, on his around the world trip seeing him spending over 250 flight hours in the air.

Along the proposed route, Jonny and his Stem-Flyer team have a number of outreach groups arranged with a host of academic and government organisations which have been designed to create an excitement and interest in STEM topics along with offering local guidance and assistance to potential pupils who may be looking at STEM as a career. The groups will provide encouragement to the attendees to study STEM related topics, by showing them through real world applications that the topics are fun, creative and empowering and can be a career option regardless of what background they may be from.

You can follow along with the build up to the journey and the journey itself either on social media (@stemflyer) or you can visit the official trip website: . The Stem-Flyer team will be attending RIAT 2020 in the Techno Zone and also Farnborough International Air Show on ‘Future’s Friday’ when the journey will begin, so please feel free to stop by.

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