A total of 68 girls aged between thirteen and fifteen from five local secondary schools recently attended an inspirational conference, at the Village Hotel Club, which focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics career pathways.
The event was supported via the Youth Aspiration Fund (YAF), which encourages applications from projects and organisations intending to raise aspirations and encourage progression in young people.
Further sponsorship came from local engineering company Fluor, a partner of CMPP who also made a significant contribution to cover the costs of coaches, lunch and refreshments for attendees and books for the students. The Village Hotel Club, another partner of CMPP, kindly gave the venue at no cost to enable the event to happen.
The importance of such an event is well-documented. Here in the UK there is a serious shortage of engineers. According to the WISE campaign, the UK needs to produce 100,000 new graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics every year until 2020 just to maintain the current employment numbers. Staggeringly at present only 6% of the STEM workforce in the UK are females.
Careers Education events such as this, where students are able to interact with business professionals, have been shown to have a positive impact on students, leading to increased motivation and engagement with learning and thus better educational outcomes.
The STEM conference included a number of stimulating hands-on activities provided by local businesses including, BAE systems, Farnborough Sixth Form College, Red Hat, The Pirbright Institute and the Canadian Pacific Project.
The event covered a range of activities and showcased a range of different fields within the STEM industry. The hands-on activities incorporated a medical sciences workshop, a submarine workshop and an egg drop challenge, all of which were thoroughly fascinating and exciting. Without such events, budding female engineers would not be able to see the exciting career prospects and potential they can develop over their time at secondary school and beyond.
Local company Fluor, who are based on the Farnborough Business Park, also presented the group with an engineering challenge - to build a tower using spaghetti and marshmallows - a fun team building exercise which got the girls thoroughly enjoyed. The activity got the young engineers thinking about the challenges professionals are faced with and encouraged the participants to think outside the box whilst putting their employability skills into practice.
In the afternoon the girls took the ‘People Like Me’ questionnaire, designed by WISE and presented by Harry from the Winchester Science Centre. The participants also had the opportunity to network, talk and discuss careers in the field with female ambassadors from the industry who also took part in the questionnaire and shared their insights.
The day finished with some truly inspiring presentations from six of the female STEM Ambassadors who gave short but insightful presentations on their experiences and career paths.
Jane Sheridan, Ed2Biz, comments, "Our community also has a high proportion of employers from STEM related industries. By increasing the interest and breaking down entry barriers it could have a positive impact on the employment of young people from the local area, helping to inspire and retain talent in Rushmoor."
Overall, the STEM event was successful in meeting its criteria (outlined below), and all involved were 'thrilled to have inspired the attending students to think about careers in STEM!:
- To raise the aspirations of the girls attending
- To introduce them to positive role models within their communities and the STEM industries
- To challenge stereotyping around careers in STEM
- To provide opportunities to gain more knowledge about careers in STEM
- To learn about how STEM learnt in schools is applied in the real world
- To use transferable skills team building, communication, creativity