At the end of June, almost 10,000 students from across the South East will gather at the South of England Showground for one of the biggest and most important events of the academic year.

Now in its seventh year, the Big Bang Fair South East is one of a series of regional Big Bang Near Me events organised throughout the UK that have given businesses and other employers a unique opportunity to forge links with schools and colleges in their area and to demonstrate the latest innovations in science and technology to potential future workforces.

The Big Bang Fair South East is the culmination of the annual Crawley STEMfest, a two-month-long programme of events in schools and colleges, in STEM Clubs and in the community in general. It is organised by STEM Sussex, the STEM outreach department of the University of Brighton, which works with businesses to inspire young people to pursue further studies, and, hopefully, careers, in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Crawley STEMfest was launched in 2012, and the first Big Bang Fair South East attracted around 2,000 young people. This year, for the first time, the event will be held over two days and will be attended by almost 10,000 nine-to-19-year-olds and their teachers, making it an ideal opportunity for employers to reach out to potential future employees.

“The events organised by STEM Sussex help to make students aware of the many training and career opportunities in STEM subjects that are available on their doorstep,” says Bronagh Liddicoat, Engineering UK Employer Support Manager for the South East, who has been involved with Crawley STEMfest since its inception. “They’re exciting and inspiring for both schools and businesses and have had a huge impact on both over the years”.

“At their heart, these events open students’ eyes to careers and futures and highlight the exciting possibilities that exist for young people within STEM. From meeting inspiring engineers and scientists from regional employers, and through receiving dedicated careers advice, young people leave an event with a fresh new perspective on where their school subjects can lead them.”

Paula Aldridge, Community Engagement Manager at Gatwick Airport, the Big Bang Fair South East’s headline sponsor, adds: “We’re pleased to be the headline sponsor once again, especially as our sponsorship is enabling the event to take place across two days for the first time”.

“Our objective is to inform young people about the wide range of applications of STEM skills at the airport and to inspire them to choose STEM subjects – helping us to build a pipeline of talent for the future. In return for becoming involved, employers like ourselves are guaranteed to engage with thousands of teachers and students and to have the opportunity to inspire the future workforce and help narrow the local STEM skills gap.”

“Since 2018 is the Year of Engineering, we’re looking forward to celebrating and inspiring a record number of next-generation engineers,” says Estelle Whewell, STEM Sussex Project Manager. “There’s no doubt that for students, educators and employers alike Crawley STEMfest and the Big Bang Fair South East have a long-lasting impact.

“The Big Bang Fair South East is the most exciting and inspiring event in the STEM calendar, and once schools attend, they return year after year. Because of its impact, schools make it an annual date in their academic calendar.

“But the Big Bang Fair South East, the regional STEMfests and the mini-Big Bangs all rely on the continued generosity and support of South East-based employers, scientific, professional and education and outreach organisations, and to reflect the variety of STEM-based career paths, we constantly need to engage with new supporters and funders.”