STEM careers offer some of the most exciting, rewarding and well-paid careers for young people. Apprenticeships offer an excellent opportunity to access these and to earn while you learn. However, we are still currently failing to attract sufficient apprentices to address the skills shortages and support the national economy to compete against the global market.
There is a lack of understanding about what apprenticeships are, a belief that they are limiting in terms of prospects and that they are for the less academic student.
Schools, teachers, parents and careers advisors need to know about the wide range of sectors and career opportunities available within the STEM sector, and they need your support.
Prepare the Ground
Forward planning and preparation are key in getting the most of the activities you run to attract more young people to join your organisation. It is important to inform and include your entire team about the importance of what you are aiming to achieve. This checklist can support this.View the Checklist
Preparing for effective outreach
Make a difference
Schools and FE Colleges in England are required to provide impartial careers guidance to their students. The Technical and Further Education Bill proposes that technical education and apprenticeships are given equal airtime with academic routes, and we will update this toolkit with when it receives Royal Assent.
Giving students opportunities to meet real apprentices is the best way to challenge their misconceptions about apprenticeships and who works in STEM.View the Checklist
Establishing contact with schools
Finding the right contact in schools can be difficult, but be confident that schools value the opportunity to work with employers and once you make the initial contact it is critical to develop that relationship and ensure all students have the opportunity to discover the career opportunities available to them.View the Checklist
Running an outreach activity
Your events must be planned meticulously. Whether a short talk in an assembly or a taster event for 25 schoolgirls, you must be able to deliver with confidence and clarity. Be ready to impact and attract your audience.View the Checklist
Running taster days (Girls only and mixed)
Maybe you will decide to run an event for girls only which is legal and covered under ‘positive action’. Do inform the girls that they will still need to apply for apprenticeships alongside boys.Many organisations such as MBDA and Ahead Partnership run events where schools are asked to send 50/50 girls and boys. This is an effective way of engaging more girls. As girls are present in larger numbers they are more likely to feel confident and able to access the information provided.
View the Checklist
Delivering effective work experience placements
Work experience is a valuable opportunity for organisations and young people. It is easier now as you no longer need DBS checks to supervise 16-18 year olds, liability insurance mostly covers work experience students and employers can use risk assessments for existing young employees to cover placements.
Once you decide to set up a work experience scheme, you need to attract girls to apply. Once again, preparation is key.
Remember: it is discriminatory to offer work experience to girls only. It is recommended to take positive action to encourage more girls to apply and then take on the best people for your opportunities offered.View the Checklist
Setting up a role model network
Your role models are your most valuable resource when it comes to engaging with young people and helping identify themselves in STEM careers. Use networks to increase the numbers and diversity of these role models and include your apprentices in these networks so that they can gain the skills and confidence to become role models themselves.
Students are 90% more likely to be interested in continuing to study STEM subjects after engaging with STEM Ambassadors. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), Independent Evaluation 2013.
Develop a sustained strategy of engagement
It is essential to continue to work with individuals who show an interest in continuing to study STEM and may consider a career.
WISE's Not for People Like Me research found that “one off interventions do not work, a sustained strategy is needed”. STEMNet also found that more exposure to ambassadors resulted in more positive responses in student.View the Checklist