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Working with schools to build an outreach programme

Babcock International group have been proactively running a long-term programme to encourage more females into engineering.

What we did.

  • We have over 250 STEM Ambassadors on this one site in Plymouth alone (over a third of the total in all of Devon and Cornwall) and we have formed over 30 special relationships with local primary and secondary schools, delivering over 200 hours of fun, hands-on workshops every month.
  • These workshops are aligned to the curriculum and against an agreed forward-looking programme with each school. These have the single aim to inspire more young people into STEM qualifications and STEM careers.
  • Critical to this programme is working with primary school children, particularly girls, to break down stereotypes and debunk myths. We know from research that young people will opt for the subjects they enjoy so we want to make science and maths fun. For example, we have run ‘monster brush’ workshops as a fun way of learning about electrical circuits, and these have engaged over 8,000 local primary school children.
  • Approximately 40% of the total STEM ambassadors are apprentices or have gone through the apprenticeship programme, and they are all fantastic role models as they are knowledgeable, inspiring and show real examples of women working on engineering.
  • The apprentice manager, Chris Allen, has been leading an active programme to support schools, including an extensive work experience programme for over seventy students per year.
  • They also support National Apprenticeship Week, which reaches thousands of local students, and in 2016 the campaign supported over thirty local careers fairs.
  • Chris stated, “We recognise this is a long-term programme and we are just starting to see some of the benefits of our hard work. We actively changed our recruitment material to showcase our female apprentices and focused on the wide range of opportunities available to appeal to a more broad range of applicants. We have also recently introduced the Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship and Level 3 Project Engineer Apprenticeships. By broadening our offer and appealing to a more diverse pool of candidates, and running an extensive STEM outreach programme, we recognise that we can appeal to and recruit the best talent.”

What we learned.

  • We employ over 100 engineering apprentices every year in Plymouth and have seen the number of female job offers steadily increase. Female apprentice intake increased from 3% in 2014 to 6% in 2016 – a 100% increase and double the national norm for the sector!
  • This year nearly 10% of our candidate applications are from females and this number has been growing year on year.
  • We learnt that family members’ opinions often put girls off applying for engineering. Continuing to grow our STEM programme and actively supporting school career fairs, open days, interview skills etc. will help to breakdown these misconceptions.
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