‘The span of opportunities within engineering’

Image: Hillpark Secondary School - Pupil's Choice Award Go4SET Scotland 2018

By Steven Brown, Education & Events Coordinator at Engineering Development Trust (EDT) - Scotland.

It is estimated that 65% of Scotland’s current pupils will work in jobs and careers that do not yet exist.  A recent analysis by the IET found that those who work in a STE(A)M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) related career are over two and a half times more likely to be working in their dream career path than those outside of STE(A)M.  They’re over four times as likely to enter their career with a higher salary than those in non-technical careers.  They are also more likely to have greater job satisfaction.  These are exciting and encouraging prospects with great opportunity ahead for Scotland’s young people. Despite this, the UK continues to see an estimated annual shortfall of 124,000 STE(A)M workers to fill roles each year.

Why is this the case?  The span of opportunities within engineering is so often misunderstood and is often perceived to be traditional and technical.  The Scottish Government recognise this as a crucial issue which is why they set out their STE(A)M Education and Training Strategy for Scotland back in 2017.  Its ambition is to be a STE(A)M nation that recognises the importance of enthusing and engaging children from early years through every stage in STE(A)M.  It seeks to encourage STE(A)M engagement, equip teachers to improve the quality of STE(A)M education, teach and develop our young people’s skills to prepare them for a career in STE(A)M and to tackle gender and other inequalities which continue to be an issue within STE(A)M areas.

At EDT, we have been providing students and teachers with a curriculum enriching STE(A)M experience for over 30 years and provide over 40,000 work related practical learning experiences each year through taster days, industry led projects and placements to inspire young people considering a STE(A)M based career.  We are excited that 2018 is both The Year of Young People and The Year of Engineering.

EDT are thrilled that in July 2018, His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales agreed to become Patron of Industrial Cadets.  Industrial Cadets works with UK employers and educators to create a talent pipeline and a future skilled workforce, whilst helping young people to develop the skills they need to enter industry with confidence.  HRH played a key part in the initial development of Industrial Cadets in 2010 and it is great to see the relationship continue as Industrial Cadets grows and expands.  EDT schemes are Industrial Cadets accredited from our 1 day ‘First Edition’ programme which is accredited at Challenger level to our ‘Year in Industry’ programme, accredited at the highest ‘Platinum’ level.  33,000 students have received Industrial Cadet accreditation, and this is ambitiously aimed to increase to 500,000 by 2021.

EDT’s ‘Year in Industry’ (YINI) programme is the UK's leading student placement programme which provides high-quality, paid placements for students within top UK companies and organisations such as Scottish Power, Rolls-Royce, Leonardo, Bosch Rexroth and Network Rail. The placements help students to gain the experience and knowledge that employers are looking for beyond their place of study and many of the 300 partner companies see YINI as an important part of their graduate recruitment programme. 

Gavin Kitching has just completed a very successful YINI placement with SP Energy Networks and shares his story:

I applied for The Year in Industry having decided another year at school wasn’t for me. I had achieved highly at school - but I was never fully engaged nor challenged. Leaving school was pretty daunting for me as I was one of the only students to leave after their 5th year. I have spent the past year commuting around 3 hours a day from Dunblane to Glasgow to work with Scottish Power Energy Networks (SPEN). During my placement I worked for a business unit of SPEN called Smart Meter Operations. My role was to work as a Data Analyst. The vast majority of my time was spent in Excel storing, processing and eventually creating outputs from tens of thousands of data entries. As the Data Analyst for the team I produced reports and graphs. These were sent to various senior members of SPEN, as well as external organisations such as OFGEM, the ENA and the HSE. I also led safety investigations on our network. A large amount of this time was spent engaging with stakeholders. This engagement included many opportunities to present in front of up to 100 people. Throughout my placement I had a baseline of consistent work but I was also tasked with new and interesting jobs as my managers challenged me and let me grow. I was shortlisted to present my years’ work as a finalist for the EDT Contribution to Business Awards 2018. Earlier in the year I was shortlisted for two separate categories at the Scottish Renewables Green Energy Awards 2018. The awards were hosted at the Glasgow Science Centre where I received the first ever ‘Special Commendation Award’ for my unique year. Following this humbling achievement I have been put forwards for the judging of The Scottish Green Energy Awards 2018 hosted in Edinburgh. It is safe to say that without the EDT Year in Industry scheme none of this would have been possible. My experience has been nothing but positive. Taking a year out to do a YINI placement has provided me with invaluable work experience and grown my confidence massively. The year has let me grow both personally and professionally, and opened many doors for my future. Starting in September I will be studying Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the University of Strathclyde. During my time at Strathclyde I hope to secure a place on the Power Academy Scholarship scheme allowing me to keep strong links with the industry while I study.

Gavin Kitching, SP Energy Networks

At EDT we also run the Go4SET competition which encourages S2 pupils to “go for it” and pursue Science, Engineering and Technology.  For 10 weeks, S2 pupils work in teams of 6 on STE(A)M-themed projects based around real-world problems that need solving, from environmental issues to finance and technology. The pupils are mentored by a local company who can guide, inspire and encourage the young people as they work. The students also go on a site visit to their company and a taster for what the business does. Go4SET is split into ‘hubs’ across Scotland from Aberdeen to Dumfries and is a great introduction to the STE(A)M industry for young people.

In October EDT will be working with Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) running the first Digital Explorers - Experience Work week long event in Edinburgh.  Around 800 high school students will participate in 5 days of tech-themed activities, panel sessions, discussions and debates; helping them make informed and confident decisions about their future.  Scotland has an average of 12,800 tech opportunities each year and the tech sector is the fastest growing sector in Scotland, so events such as this are key in informing our young people of their options for their future.

Throughout history Scotland has been at the forefront of invention and innovation as we claim the invention of the steam engine, bicycle, practical telephone, television, wave powered electricity generator, refrigeration, electric toaster, microwave, flush toilet, canals, lawnmower and the first cloned mammal to name a few.  Our involvement in innovation looks to continue into the future.  With 80 aerospace companies in Scotland and counting, all eyes are on Scotland for the future of Aerospace as Scotland plans to open the world’s first Gravitational Wave Space Observatory in 2030.  Scotland’s aerospace industry plans to double its value to £4 billion by 2021.

At EDT we are thrilled to play a part in inspiring Scotland’s young people into STE(A)M education and careers, and are excited for the future as Scotland continues to progress and develop at pace into a strong STE(A)M nation.


With thanks to Steven Brown and everyone at Engineering Development Trust (EDT).

www.etrust.org.uk

www.industrialcadets.org.uk

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