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Historic business breakfast during British Science Week discusses growing the STEM talent pipeline

Published: Mar 28, 2022 3 min read

STEM Learning

We hosted our first ever ‘hybrid’ Business Breakfast event during British Science Week – using their theme of ‘growth’ to focus on improving the STEM talent pipeline and the key role businesses play in engaging young people in STEM.
 
On the panel were: 
  • Dr Maz Jagatia – Material Science and Structural Integrity, Group Director, Jacobs
  • Bonnie Lewis – Environmental Practitioner Degree Apprentice, Jacobs
  • Lindsay Lucas – Managing Director, Software Solved
  • Stuart Ball – Regional Network Lead, STEM Learning

 

Maz started the discussion by introducing Jacobs’s STEAM programme which coordinates activities with the local authority, partner businesses and nearby schools. They engage with thousands of students through their STEAM initiatives including career fairs, the ambassador programme, degree apprenticeships and graduate programmes. They are currently also developing a work experience programme for local teenagers. 
 
Maz added that Jacobs have a target of a 40/40/20 employee split with 40% men, 40% women and 20% other gender. He said: “Diversity brings innovation, but there’s no point focusing on growth if you don’t do anything to retain your staff”. 
 
Next was Bonnie, a Jacobs apprentice. Her inspiring presentation had all the participants engaged as she shared her story of finding her passion in STEM. She discussed how the apprenticeship programme has allowed her to work in different areas and engage in invaluable practical learning.
 
Bonnie is also a STEM Ambassador, regularly engaging with pupils and students in schools and sharing her career journey. She emphasised the importance of companies ensuring they have a high profile among young people who may work for them in the future – adding that she always tells students she works for Jacobs Engineering, not Jacobs Crackers!
 
The next panellist, Lindsay, represented SMEs, and she shared some of the challenges that SMEs in the tech sector face when trying to grow their talent pipeline. She described tech as “often the best kept secret” when it comes to careers.
 
She added that SMEs often find it hard to find time to engage with young people and that there are significant skills gaps. Focusing on bridging that gap, she discussed their work with local colleges and universities to help address this, with apprenticeships playing a key role. She said: “Young people bring new perspectives, ideas and great energy”, adding that an organisation’s culture is now a huge factor for young people when they are looking for an employer.
 
STEM Learning’s very own Stuart then outlined some of our programmes that we use to engage young people in STEM. He explained the importance of long-term strategic relationships and working collaboratively with partner businesses, schools and colleges and STEM Ambassadors. 
 
A key final message from the session was that education and business should work collaboratively to create, nurture and grow the wider STEM talent pipeline that all businesses can draw from - benefiting the UK economy as a whole.
 
We are currently planning our next business breakfast where we would like to see as many people as possible. Details will be shared soon.
 
If you were unable to attend this session and would like a copy of the recording, please contact employers@stem.org.uk clearly stating which business breakfast you are interested in. Or, if you want to speak to us about how you might support us with any of our programmes, please contact Liz Whitworth l.whitworth@stem.org.uk for an initial conversation.
 
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