Why do we need an Institute of Technology?

“To overcome STEM shortages in the long term, we need to show young people that they can pursue a STEM pathway regardless of their characteristics.”

This was the government’s recommendation in summer 2023 in response to a report that said opportunities in STEM are not equally distributed across society.

The report, by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, said that women, people from certain ethnic backgrounds, those with disabilities, people from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and those from the LGBTQ+ community were under-represented in STEM education, training and employment.

The gap widens the further up the chain people go, too. The report said engineers from more advantaged socio-economic backgrounds were almost four times more likely to have progressed to intermediate, managerial or professional roles by the age of 30-39 than those from less advantaged backgrounds.

From an early age

Instances of discrepancies between groups began early. The report quoted examples such as a sample of GCSE science exam literature that named only two female scientists compared with 40 male ones. Subject choices were also more limited depending on your background, with triple science at GCSE generally being less available at schools in more deprived areas.

The conclusion was that any lack of diversity in the scientific workforce represents both an absence of talent that the UK could be benefiting from and a lack of opportunity for people in the UK.

For Lancashire and Cumbria Institute of Technology to be effective, we have to address the shortcomings raised in the report.


Solving the shortage of STEM skills is essential to supporting the growth of the economy. From aerospace engineers to pharmacists, cyber security experts and data analysts, the opportunities in STEM are broad and fascinating, but we need to do more to encourage people to aim for them. This means both signposting people to what we can offer and raising aspirations, so people feel able to pursue careers in STEM.

It’s becoming even more important that we attract as wide a talent pool as possible so we can fill skills gaps. For example, the digital skills gap alone is estimated to cost the UK economy £63 billion per year in lost potential gross domestic product (GDP) and is expected to widen, resulting in a workforce inadequately equipped to meet the demands of the digital age.

As well as plugging the gaps, drawing in a wider range of people to STEM careers will create richer workforces with broader experiences and outlooks to influence their work.  

The vision for IoTs has, from the outset, been ambitious and the Lancashire and Cumbria Institute of Technology is no exception – and diversity must be a cornerstone of this.


Our area is already diverse, made up of areas of wealth and deprivation, which have a knock-on effect on the skills we have as a Lancashire and Cumbria region.

Our goal is to bring as many of those people in to study IoT courses so we ensure we are reflective of the communities we serve.

We will increase social mobility by targeting under-represented groups, developing previously unrecognised talent and improving gender balance in STEM careers.

Lancashire and Cumbria IoT exists for people of all backgrounds and beliefs, whether they are students, employees or businesses.

We know there is work to be done but, as a collective of colleges, universities and businesses, we are committed addressing the findings of the government’s report