October 13, 2015

STEM: 10 years later

By Matthew Lowe

A careers event for GCSE level students was held at Urmston Grammar School on Friday 11th September 2015. Industry representatives from various STEM backgrounds interviewed groups of two to three students for three minutes in a “Speed-Networking” style event. The event was organised by One Education as part of an overall preparation for working life. One Education provides a unique breadth of specialist education services, delivering measurable pupil intervention and leadership support.

As a former pupil of the school, it was strange to have come full circle, and sit on the employed side of the careers table, some 10 years later. It was equally strange being the person offering advice, considering I’m still young in career terms. Initially I was wondering, ‘how could anything I say be helpful to these students?’

Sitting in the school’s new conference centre was a useful aide to explain building services; how sometimes new services need to work with old buildings and the challenges faced within the design process.

Following the first round of discussions, a few themes of conversation had begun to trend. Several were very clearly set on the path of being on Oxbridge Medic or Dentist (to whom I could only offer anecdotes of friends who have travelled that career path). A surprising number of students also wanted to know about money. Others were simply unsure about the decision they faced and found the overall prospect of career daunting.

In this case I talked around work placements. The topic was not new, however, but most were not clear how to organise one or even what they fully entailed. Fortunately I was able to use a recent example of someone in our office – Luke, who joined us for work experience and has now been taken on by Cundall as a trainee engineer. This was generally well received.

Despite all of the variations, one theme remained consistent throughout; apprenticeships. 10 years ago my peers and I were set on a traditional academic focused pathway. Now, however, students seemed to have been briefed in both academia and apprenticeships in equal measure, which I believe to be a very positive change. Granted that more options makes the decision process longer but this is the balance shift in culture that should stem the way to closing the skills shortage.

Overall it was yet another interesting STEMnet event, with a nostalgic element, and a great opportunity to promote Cundall to the next generation.

Find out more about Cundall – http://www.cundall.com/

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Future Engineers, Matthew Lowe

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