Business Inspires Future Scientists

We all know that business has a growing need for a workforce that is highly skilled in engineering, science and technology. Many businesses say they cannot recruit enough staff locally to fill STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Maths) related posts, and with a large proportion of the workforce over 50, the situation is set to get worse in the future. We need more young people to be considering STEM careers through higher education and apprenticeships.

But did you also know that many young people have already made career choices by the age of 12! In many cases they have simply ruled out some job areas because they don’t think it’s for them, or maybe it just doesn’t sound exciting enough!

The recent Primary STEM Fair, held at the high tech CEMAST college in Fareham and run by EBP South, aimed to inspire children BEFORE they made those choices.

33 companies took part in the event on 8th, 9th and 10th March which was attended by almost 700 children aged between 9 and 11. Each child took part in 8 different activities run by a local business.

James Bucknell, a water quality scientist at Portsmouth Water was hosting an activity with pupils fitting model pipes from a water supply to a model house. ‘Science and technology isn’t normally the thing that kids go for…its normally football or being a pop star’. ‘This gives them insight’ Jacquie Jones, EBP South Project Manager said ‘ …the children are able to get hands on at the event which really engages them. They’re quite young so they are very enthusiastic and ask lots of questions’.

Cath Longhurst, CEO of EBP South explained that people often ask why businesses get involved in this kind of activity. However the company benefits as much as the children. Some businesses love it because it is an opportunity to let more people know about what they do, and hopefully encourage the future workforce to consider them as a career option. Others can also see direct benefits for their own staff. It gets them working together in new ways, which can be great for staff morale, and it also helps them develop new skills. Everyone from apprentices to senior managers gets something out of talking to the children about their work. For new managers in particular, it is an opportunity to develop group management skills and to think about how they communicate an idea.

John Thornhill of  Wartsila said ‘it reminds my team about all the good things about their job. When they talk to children about their work, they are enthusiastic because they want to get the message across, and they come back to work re-energised’.

“Our world needs creative, imaginative and innovative scientists and engineers; this event could be the catalyst for many young people to start their educational and career pathways in STEM-related subjects” said Cath Longhurst, CEO EBP South.