Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. How do we get more young people to take these subjects at GCSE, A-level, and degree level? One way is to give youngsters a real taste of how exciting these fields are and the sort of career prospects they would have. That is what The Big Bang, the UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, currently on at Manchester Central is all about.
By the time it closes on Saturday over twenty thousand pupils and parents will have sampled the exhibition, and if the first day (yesterday) is anything to go by it will have been a stimulating experience both for them and for the staff on the exhibition stands. I paid a brief visit last night with Juergen Maier, the man in charge of Siemens' Manchester operation (Siemens are one of the lead sponsors) and couldn't fail to be impressed. If young people are worried about their future these are areas they really need to get into, as there will be jobs by the bucket load and not just for graduates - there is even greater demand for people with practical, technical skills. Later, at the end of the Sponsors Dinner, three young people, all around twenty years of age, two men and a woman engineer, talked about what they had achieved already and were truly inspirational. Forget Media Studies and Hairdressing (not that there's anything wrong with professions in either of those areas), STEM is the future.
Leisure and Tourism is also the future and I spend most of this morning talking about East Manchester and the agreement with Manchester City Football Club to work together to use the fifty nine acres they have bought, and the land we own around SportCity, two hundred acres in total to create a visitor destination of national significance. For the Council this is about jobs, and jobs that are accessible to people in East Manchester. The owners of the club have always said that theirs is a long-term investment and that they want to contribute to the regeneration of the area. Now they've put that in writing and are part of a project board with the Council, which over time will bring forward detailed proposals. I know there is lots of speculation about what those might be but I'm not going to add to that. The partnership will only be bringing forward detailed plans when we are absolutely confident that they can be delivered. After the disappointment of the Casino we now want certainty.