UK business needs to create a virtuous circle of positive change, says Ben Farmer, with successful women becoming inspirational role models for the next generation of builders, innovators and inventors
The UK’s ongoing STEM skills shortage is a key issue for employers such as Amazon. Vacancies for highly skilled technical roles will double over the next decade, while 89 per cent of businesses are already struggling to recruit for STEM roles.
Attracting more women and girls into these careers is rightly seen as part of the solution.
The benefits of a diverse workforce are abundant, for employers and employees Our recent research, in partnership with WISE, polled 1,000 women working in STEM and found that a 10 per cent increase of women in STEM careers would lead to a £3 billion boost for UK business.
Every apprentice needs a workplace mentor – someone there every day who understands and supports their learning and development needs, and the concerns that go along with settling into a new role.
We spoke to Nick Nurock, science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) Application Developer at Transport for London (TfL) and Firebrand Training’s 2018 Apprentice Mentor of the Year, who is a mentor for apprentices on tech-related courses. Keep reading for his top tips on how workplace mentors can help apprentices succeed for themselves and the company.
It’s important not to underestimate the time required to help even the most self-sufficient apprentices prepare for their qualification. ‘Don’t let your manager tell you it’s something you can do on the side. You need to argue for a recognised amount of your time to be spent on it to do it justice,’ Nick advises.
Today marks Ada Lovelace Day, the annual event that celebrates the achievements of women in science and tech.
Founded back in 2009, the day was inspired by Ada Lovelace who is considered the first person to ever write a computer program back in the 19th Century.
Whilst Ada Lovelace Day is about Ada, it’s also an opportunity to think about the women breaking ground in STEM now and who are inspiring us every single day.
This is no easy feat: just two weeks ago, a male physicist at the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (Cern) said that physics was “invented and built by men” and, therefore, not suitable for women.
He also said that women were only welcome in science if they proved themselves enough to win a Nobel Prize, despite not having won one himself. He has since been suspended.
It’s frankly unbelievable that we are still having this debate over whether there is enough room in science, or tech, or maths, or engineering, for women.
In honour of Ada Lovelace Day, let’s forget the detractors concentrate on just a handful of incredible women doing amazing things in science.
A member of the government’s apprenticeship delivery board says opportunities at level 2 and 3 are key.
Lower level apprenticeships have the potential to greatly boost productivity, according to the head of apprenticeships at Barclay’s.
The number of lower level apprenticeships has fallen markedly in recent years. In the four years to 2016/17, the number of intermediate apprenticeship starts (level 2) fell by 11 per cent, while advanced apprenticeship starts (level 3) fell by six per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of higher apprenticeship starts (level 4-7) increased by 269 per cent in the same period. The overall number of apprenticeship starts has fallen by four per cent – from 510,200 in 2012-13 to 491,300 in 2016-17.
Richard Hines – Principal Specialist inspector at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
A demanding job in a high-pressure environment, dealing with matters of life and death daily, you might think that I’m the product of a Russell Group university education with a list of Bachelors and Masters degrees to my name. But you’d be wrong.
Like most young people at 16, I finished school and was faced with the massive choice between staying on in education and going to university, entering the world of full-time work, or bridging the gap between the two by undertaking an apprenticeship.
I weighed up my options, mindful that whatever decision I took would determine my future career.
I looked at university pamphlets and attended open days but the courses just didn’t appeal to me.
I knew I wanted to get into electrical engineering as soon as possible, and get real life hands-on experience, when it hit me; I should do an apprenticeship. Twenty years later, I haven’t looked back since.
It is well-known that women are under-represented in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors in the UK.
Only 24 percent of women work in core STEM industries and there are concerns that the skills gap is widening.
What can be done to fix these problems?
Recently, the UK government has been increasing its focus on apprenticeships. This is when a full-time job is combined with training in essential skills and recognisable qualifications. In 2017, 114,400 young people started apprenticeships in England, in sectors such as health, engineering, and business.
Getting young women into STEM apprenticeships
According to Anne Milton, the minister for skills and apprenticeships, barriers need to be broken down in order to encourage girls to pursue science-based subjects.
A new UK project aims to offer a practical demonstration of how artificial intelligence can simplify and speed up the creation of digital learning content for manufacturing and engineering apprentices.
Ufi Charitable Trust has announced the next phase of its £1m investment in projects that use digital technology to improve how vocational learning is delivered in the manufacturing sector.
It has awarded £100,000 for project led by Youthforce, a provider of STEM apprenticeship training, which aims to deliver online training to apprentices in the workplace, using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create, curate and consolidate learning content.
Ufi Charitable Trust, a grant-funding body which supports the delivery of adult vocational skills through digital technology, is excited to announce £100,000 of funding for a vocational training project led by Youthforce, provider of STEM apprenticeship training. The investment is part of Ufi’s Manufacturing Skills Fund which will invest £1m in projects that use digital technology to improve how vocational learning is delivered in the manufacturing sector.
You could be forgiven for not having heard of postgraduate degree apprenticeships, also known as level 7 apprenticeships, which were launched in March 2015 with just 30 learners. But these master’s-level programmes have big potential.
The Department for Education says it expects uptake to increase when the apprenticeship levy comes into force in May. And while only a few apprenticeships are available, such as in systems engineering or digital technology solutions, there are plenty more in the works, including teaching.
With level 7 apprenticeships, students will have an undergraduate degree or equivalent, and be expected to be working for their sponsor company.
There’s a lot of talk about apprenticeships at the moment, including the dreaded apprenticeship levy.
I can imagine some schools are furious that they are going to have to pay for something that right now has no meaning to them.
I believe in the apprentice programme. My school has a strong track record in supporting apprentices.
We currently employ 13 apprentices across the school, specialising in skills such as sports tuition, business administration, finance, nursery education and specialist education.
Apprentices spend one day a week at our local college to gain a qualification in their specialist area. After two years they can seek employment or higher education.