August 12th is the International Youth Day defined by the United Nations. This year’s theme, ‘Transforming Education’, highlights efforts to make education more inclusive and accessible for all youth in line with the Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UK faces a huge engineering skills shortage – and we need to do something about it. At Schneider Electric, we are passionate about helping to transition our young people from education to employment. This is why it’s vital that we provide the right training and offer exposure to the world of engineering from a young age. Only then can we ignite a passion for a potential future career in the industry.
Schneider Electric UK and Primary Engineer, a not for profit educational organisation, hosted an event and competition. Primary school pupils showcased the results of their hands-on experience designing, building and styling their own electric vehicle. We chose to partner with Primary Engineer in the hope of supporting schools in STEM and engineering training for youth.
Promoting careers in STEM and engineering for youth
The competition tasked young innovators from ten schools across the Coventry and Warwick area in UK with testing their electric vehicles on ramps to test power and durability. The morning session offered an opportunity for pupils to demonstrate what they had learnt and how they built their vehicles.
With funding from Schneider Electric, teachers from the local schools attended a training session at the Coventry offices. They partnered with Schneider Electric engineers to learn how to deliver the school-based STEM activities. Each school received comprehensive lesson plans and resources to construct eight vehicles per school. The Schneider Electric engineers visited the schools throughout the programme. They provided pupils with support and to promote careers in engineering.
Breaking down stereotypes in STEM and engineering
Part of the Primary Engineer programme is designed to break down stereotypes associated with the world of engineering. The competition offered the chance for school pupils to gain skills and competences. It also introduced a practical element into the curriculum for pupils at an early age.
Impacting the lives of young people
The winning teams were chosen based on the vehicle’s performance in the testing stage, its build quality, its design and control as well as awards for best design and best communicators. The awards for winning teams were certificates and medals, with a comprehensive on-going support package from Schneider Electric.
“Working with companies like Schneider Electric is a vital part of what we do. We are thrilled that Schneider Electric has been able to support us in impacting the lives of young people in the Coventry and Warwick area,” adds Chris Rochester, UK Director for Primary Engineer.
“Ultimately, we aim to inspire pupils and teachers alike through their professional development and through our competitions to spark a passion for a skilled and understaffed industry.”
About the Author
I have been very fortunate to have been working in the Schneider Electric Industry team for 18 years. I have always found the Company and my colleagues very supportive with career development and progression.
Previous to my Schneider career, I worked for privately owned OEM companies as Chief Engineer.
On joining Schneider, I soon realised the emphasis and support available. Over my time to date, I have had a broad exposure in Technical, Sales, Marketing and Service management culminating in my Support Director role in Industry UK.
Over the whole period, I have experienced difficulties in recruitment and the available talent-pool in the UK. It often resorted to less diverse, latter career candidates to fill roles. Young people just didn’t seem to want an Engineering career.
I have always been passionate about education, becoming very involved at my children’s schools and becoming a Governor, and then Chair of Governors across a variety of Schools and age groups from Nursery to Secondary level.
About 10 years ago, due to pressures of work and the graduation of my children, I took a break from education, until Schneider re-launched the STEM Ambassador program in the UK 3 years ago.
The culture in Schneider of Diversity & Inclusion, and the encouragement around social responsibility linked with my recognition of a dwindling talent pool, led me to re-ignite my passion and determinism to do something about it and work on the employees of the future.
Since then I have been a very active STEM Ambassador, promoting Engineering careers across all age groups. I am Chair of Governors at a local Nursery and Primary School. I am a Trustee of a large Multi Academy Trust based in Oldham and Chair of the Derby Hub Board. I also work on the board of the Derby Early Years Training School and Enterprise Advisor to a couple of local Secondary Schools
There are several issues. Firstly children are stereotyped from a young age and some roles do not encourage diversity. They have little knowledge of Engineering roles and career paths. Schools are ill-equipped to teach Engineering, and give experience to their students.
This is where companies such as Schneider Electric can step-up and support education to smooth that transition from education to employment. We should all be proud to work for a company that cares and promotes this work.
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