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    NAA Skills Update: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) skills

    Dear “Angry of Automotive”. Thank you for your comments regarding the content of my skills articles in the NAA newsletter. I am sorry that you feel that I put too much emphasis on apprenticeships, however I do take exception to your description of my passion for apprenticeships as “verging on an unhealthy obsession”. To prove that I have a much broader interest in skills, for this month only, I will make no further mention of apprenticeships.

    I recently attended two very different events, one aimed at employers and one aimed at teachers, which shared a common theme: STEM skills. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths, subjects which are close to the heart of the majority of our employers, but subjects which are all too often overlooked by students when making qualification decisions and by those offering careers advice.

    This links to comments from the employer representatives participating in our last Autohub Steering Group meeting who all agreed that they would like to see Autohub supporting employers to engage with schools and that there is a need for improved education of teachers and careers advisors with regard to qualifications and careers in engineering and manufacturing.

    There many ways in which employers can work with students and teachers to improve STEM skills and to encourage more youngsters to consider careers in engineering manufacturing including:

    • Offering work experience to students
    • Offering work experience to teachers
    • Volunteering to be a STEM Ambassador

    If we are going to plug the skills gaps, it is vital that we engage with schools and attract students from as early an age as possible. An example of effective schools engagement was brought to my attention recently by the Chief Executive of The Smallpiece Trust, a charitable organisation which promotes STEM careers to young people in the UK. The Trust had run a STEM Day in a school which had been so successful that when the students made their choices of subjects at Key Stage 4, rather than teaching one GCSE Engineering group of around seventeen pupils, the school had to run two groups of twenty-two and had to turn pupils away.

    While some employers are nervous about engaging with schools because of issues surrounding welfare of students, health and safety, etc, there are some good organisations which support employers and take responsibility for students as they participate in activities which will stimulate their interest in STEM subjects. Autohub will be working with those organisations to gain an understanding of all support available to employers and studying models of business engagement with schools in order that we can offer the best solutions to you.

    And finally, what better way to recruit apprentices than by offering work experience to young people and then being able to offer career opportunities to those who have proved themselves to be a good fit with your company and have an eagerness to work and learn?

    If you have any comments or questions about STEM or any other skills-related subject, I would be pleased to hear from you.

    PS to Angry of Automotive – Did you really think I would miss an opportunity to mention apprentices?

    Susan Butters
    Project Manager, Autohub
    Tel: 07815-284360

    European Regional Development Fund Northern Powerhouse
    Partners Department for Business Innovation and Skills Finance Birmingham