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Space: inspirational, but full of greybeards

So says report

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

The utterly impartial Particle Physics and Astronomy Research Council (PPARC) has published a report outlining how investment in space exploration can encourage youngsters to get into science and improve educational standards and skills.

PPARC sent its survey to teachers, students, and those working in industry. It concluded that space science has a direct and positive effect on education and career decisions, although the evidence presented was mainly anecdotal.

The report acknowledges that the quantitative evidence is limited, but says what evidence there is is very persuasive.

The report also highlighted a thirst for information about space exploration from teachers, but noted that while awareness of NASA's activities is high, students and teachers in the UK know very little about the UK and Europe's own space programme.

The findings were published this weekend as part of its "Case for Space" report.

But as well as demonstrating that the space industry can and does provide a positive influence and helps to funnel more people into the industry, the research revealed a sector in crisis.

The workforce in the space industry is ageing, and is having trouble recruiting people with the right skills: some 30 per cent of the workforce is likely to retire in 2015, and the average age of a Boeing employee is 49.

The report notes that the average age of people working in the industry is increasing by a year, each year, indicating that there are not enough new recruits coming into the sector. Those that do are lacking basic maths and English skills, it said.

You can read more, and download a copy of the report here. ®

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