Wales has a thriving tech scene. The sector is worth £8.5 billion to the Welsh economy, so it is not surprising that there are several groups and initiatives aimed at promoting STEM in Wales. Cardiff is becoming a hub for fintech, with Monzo and Starling both opening offices in the capital – Starling’s CEO and Founder Anne Boden is home grown Welsh talent, after all.

To celebrate STEM innovation and commitment in Wales, we decided to sponsor the inaugural Wales STEM Awards, choosing to promote the Innovation in Technology Award in particularly. So, what better time to take a closer look at the state of STEM in Wales?

Investment in talent

In recognition of the importance of STEM subjects for the future workers, there are several schemes designed to equip Welsh students with STEM skills. The Engineering Education Scheme Wales (EESW or STEM Cymru) is a fantastic example of this; the non-profit educational charity has been inspiring interest in STEM subjects since 1989.

This skills investment continues throughout the career cycle, as evidenced by groups such as the DevOpsGroup Academy and Wales Women in STEM Network. At Cardiff University, 23 per cent of engineering undergraduates are female, compared to the typical average of 13 per cent – clearly, Welsh initiatives to encourage STEM development are working.

Investment in innovation

The Welsh tech sector employs 40,000 people and this will only continue to grow. Recent government funding will allow international technology consultancy Keytree Ltd to open new offices in Port Talbot, creating 38 jobs and establishing a new innovation hub.

According to the 2019 Tech Nation Report, Cardiff is among the top 10 UK cities for tech investment, and compares favourably to Atlanta and Berlin for fintech investment. Though Wales is yet to produce a unicorn, several Welsh businesses are close to making it first past the post, with Cardiff’s Amplyfi being a particular firm to watch. Creating a unicorn will help further cement the country’s reputation as a leader in tech and innovation, encouraging even more investment and development.

Investment in Welsh Futures

STEM skills are important for the future because the Fourth Industrial Revolution will see the displacement and replacement of many human jobs. While we have yet to find a consensus on the number of jobs which may be destroyed – or indeed, created – by automation, what we do know is that the world of work is set to change in a big way.

A recent report, Managing Productivity in Welsh Firmsproduced by Cardiff Metropolitan University and the Hodge Foundation, found that Welsh small businesses are unprepared for the future challenges and tend not to plan for the long term. 50 per cent of workers in Wales are employed by micro or small businesses, so this trend must not be allowed to continue.

The same report found that a number of firms are committed to the wellbeing of workers and wider communities, creating a positive feature for the Welsh economy. It is this sense that we will need to draw upon to continue to grow investment in the future – working together to create better opportunities for those across Wales.

By celebrating our country’s success in STEM, we highlight the positive impact Wales can have on global innovation and the opportunities for continued development.