Raising awareness of STEM career opportunities

L-R: Jason Smith, Principal of The Cedars Academy pictured with STEM Star students, Andy Lawson, Chief Operating Officer of Winbro Group Technologies and Rebecca Knaggs, Assistant Principal.

The Cedars Academy in Birstall has joined forces with Winbro Group Technologies, based in Coalville to raise awareness of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) career opportunities within the manufacturing industry and prepare young people for working life.

The partnership will see 15 year 9 Triple Science pupils from Cedars Academy become ‘STEM Stars’ who will represent the school and take part in competitions and interview workshops. They will explore the working world by visiting leading engineering businesses such as Winbro and Caterpillar, as well gaining exposure to further education opportunities at Rolls Royce’s Apprenticeship Learning and Development Centre and Loughborough University’s automotive and aerospace engineering degree programmes.

The initiative has been driven by Andy Lawson, Chief Operating Officer of Winbro Group Technologies, who has been working closely with senior leaders at the school to help develop the programme as part of his role as the school’s dedicated ‘Enterprise Adviser’.

Andy said, “I have developed a real partnership with Cedars Academy and aim to use my business experience and contacts to support them in developing better connectivity with industry.”

“The role of Enterprise Adviser gives me the opportunity to influence how enterprise education is delivered to young people, and to play a part in helping education develop strategy to become more closely aligned with industry, which will be of great benefit to our young people across Leicester and Leicestershire.”

“I am particularly passionate about STEM as Winbro relies on recruiting young talent and the sector is projected to need 182,000 people with engineering skills each year up to 2022.”

Rebecca Knaggs, Assistant Principal at Cedars, said “The ‘STEM Stars’ programme is something we are very excited about and it will really help raise aspirations at our school. It is essential our young people have real exposure to industry as we know this really inspires our students and supports them make those critical career choices.”

“Our Enterprise Adviser has been fantastic in helping to develop the programme, from connecting us with businesses and supporting us with interviews.”

The Enterprise Adviser Network (EAN) links business mentors with local schools and is run by the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership (LLEP) in partnership with the Careers & Enterprise Company.

Since EAN launched in May, a total of 40 schools and colleges and 40 senior business leaders have been recruited included companies such as East Midlands Airport, NHS, Geosynthetics, Hammerson and Leicester Racecourse. It aims to grow the network to cover 60 schools and colleges by August 2017.

The STEM Stars programme will run until March 2018 where students will receive a Crest Award which can be used to enhance their apprenticeship or university applications.