Hertfordshire LEP in partnership with The Careers and Enterprise Company hosted a careers event on 23 March to give young people the chance to learn more about science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers and employers. The event was held at Roundwood Park School, Harpenden, and was also attended by students from nearby Sir John Lawes School.

Bim Afolami, MP for Hitchin and Harpenden, who led and championed the event said, “I want young people in this area to have the best chance to not only transition into work but to thrive in their future careers. STEM careers are some of the most exciting on offer and give young people fantastic opportunities. I want to give teenagers the chance to see and understand the many options open to them and that’s why events like these are so important”.

Working with SETPOINT Hertfordshire, local STEM employers including AECOM, Affinity Water, Atlas Copco, Morrison Utility Services (part of MGroupServices), Rothamsted Research, Weldability-SIF and Willmott Dixon, were invited to deliver interactive workshops to introduce their business, the range of jobs within the organisation and the skills and qualities they look for in employees.

In total, students took part in a carousel of six workshops, each lasting 40 minutes, giving them a taste of the huge variety of career opportunities encompassed within the STEM umbrella. They also had a chance to find out more about the merits of apprenticeships as a potential career pathway during a Q&A session with two STEM apprentices led by Bim Afolami.

Erin O’Rourke, Public Engagement Manager at Rothamsted Research said, “We were delighted to have the opportunity to raise the career aspirations of local children. Agriculture makes a major contribution to national and global prosperity. For this to continue we need young people to have a strong appreciation of food production and security, and inspire the next generation to pursue careers in agricultural science”.

Sarah Yong, Head of Government Relations at The Careers & Enterprise Company said, “We are trying to join the dots for young people - to bring together employers, schools, teachers, young people and the Local Enterprise Partnership. This day is an amazing example of these efforts. We have local STEM employers, such as Rothamsted, helping the kids to step in the shoes of a scientist”.

Promoting STEM skills is one of the key priorities from our Hertfordshire Skills Strategy to 2020, with demand continuing to grow thanks to an expected increase in jobs within construction and science. The need to promote apprenticeships as a viable alternative to university for school leavers and encourage more females to take STEM A-Level subjects has also been identified in The Careers and Enterprise Company ‘Cold Spots’ report.

The event also helped the schools meet their target of providing every student with at least one encounter with an employer per school year between Years 7-13 as outlined in Government’s Careers Strategy, published December 2017.

Gareth Dace, Senior Enterprise Coordinator at Hertfordshire LEP said, “We are committed to creating better links between schools and local employers to ensure that our young people are equipped with an understanding of the world of work and the opportunities available to them within the county. STEM and apprenticeships are significant focus areas for us as a LEP and we are grateful to SETPOINT Hertfordshire for their support in putting this event together. All the employers have delivered highly engaging workshops and activities which combined with Bim’s input will have helped create meaningful encounters for the students.”