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Mentor sessions to inspire Lancashire’s next engineers

Students in Lancashire are being inspired to become the county’s next generation of top engineers, mathematicians and scientists.

Pupils at schools and colleges across Lancashire have been taking part in a mentoring programme with some of the region’s leading STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) employers to encourage students to think about a career in the industry once they leave school.

The sessions, funded by Future U, include STEM Ambassador mentors from companies including BAE Systems, Eric Wright Group, GlaxoSmithKline and Network Rail.

STEM Ambassadors are volunteers, typically from industry, who want to share their passion to inspire the next generation of the STEM workforce.  Students have been able to speak with STEM Ambassadors to hear their stories about starting a career in the industry.

The sessions are designed and delivered by local education company STEMFirst and allow the students to learn about the possibilities of STEM careers and hear first-hand what they need to do to study for a job in the sector.

The students link with mentors who can advise them on career routes and give them an insight into the industry. The sessions have proved popular so far, with most students saying they had learnt new skills and given them useful information and advice on how to qualify for the jobs, such as university life.

Susan Hargreaves, Director of  STEMFIrst Ltd, said: “The mentoring programmes are invaluable in helping young people develop lifelong skills – teamwork, leadership, communication, etc. as they seek to reach their full potential.

“The opportunity to meet and question real people doing real jobs adds value to the experience, providing a bank of knowledge from a credible source to support more informed choices in the future.”

Emma Deeks, Senior Outreach Officer at Future U, said: “The feedback from students and teachers has always been very positive and the appeal of the mentoring has been shown to go beyond those purely interested in classic STEM careers.”

“For this academic year, students are also being offered wraparound activities delivered by our partner colleges and universities. We hope they will allow learners to consider the potential progression routes available to them if they choose to pursue a career in STEM, as well as allowing them to utilise some of the skills and ideas they have learnt during the mentoring programme.”

Since launching in 2017, Future U has held more than 1000 events and activities to support over 27,000 young people to think about applying for university. The programme works alongside the county’s four universities and 10 colleges throughout Lancashire and has continued to deliver activities online during the lockdown.

In addition to promoting the benefits of university to prospective students, the programme also supports young people to understand student finance, living away from home and raise career ambitions to develop the next set of skilled workers for the county.

Future U is part of the national Uni Connect Programme, funded by the Office for Students, and continues to support school pupils across Lancashire to encourage more young people to think about higher education and future careers. The project involves institutions and organisations across the county including the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, Edge Hill University and the University of Cumbria.

Lancashire’s Future U works with a network of schools, in addition to colleges, higher education providers and local agencies to create tailored activities to meet the needs of students for now and the future.

Its list of partners includes: Blackburn College, Blackpool Sixth Form College, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Burnley College, Edge Hill University, Inspira, Kendal College, Lancaster University, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College, Preston’s College, STEMFirst, Runshaw College, The Lancashire Colleges, University of Central Lancashire, University of Cumbria, West Lancashire College.

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