The media consistently remind us about skills shortages, gaps in the market and industry struggling to fill vacancies today with skilled staff in a market with an ever-growing fear for the future.
Educators have done, and continue to do, a phenomenal job in educating our young people and giving them as much exposure to industry today, following the 8 Gatsby benchmarks, with number four specifically linking curriculum learning to careers. The Careers and Enterprise Company advise that ‘careers in the curriculum’ describes a range of interventions that allow students to encounter career learning as part of their everyday school curriculum.
Businesses deploy programmes to support their sectors and industries today, be that through community outreach, sponsorship of education days or the deployment of an Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) stream.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves – for schools to successfully engage with businesses, businesses need to be set up/ready to fulfil requests from education. There are dozens of ways for businesses to engage with education – but it can all be very daunting, especially when you are not sure where to start.
It is a similar hive mind in education; with headteachers, subject leads and careers advisers not sure where to start with engaging with regional and national businesses, to create
meaningful experiences.. Now both industries can get that support.
In the summer of 2021, an education consultancy agency launched in Northampton, made up from a network of freelance national educators, industry matter experts, speakers, science communicators, presenters and learning designers. With so many national and international organisations offering services and solutions to educators and business, the need to start bringing these under one roof was recognised and The STEM Project was born.
Director Laura Giddings, an experienced, award-winning business education professional, has found a way to integrate both industries successfully. In professional and volunteer roles over the last ten years, Laura saw a demand in an ever-expanding industry – organisations wishing to inspire and educate the next generation but not having a dedicated person or team in house with the expertise, skills or knowledge. Educators have specific requests for industry engagement, but precise requests a rarely met.
“I wanted to take all that I had learned and developed over my career and help others make the same impact,” said Laura. “Having fallen through the net myself in terms of career support and advice when I was in school, due to the lack of knowledge, I find that today it is the opposite. There is so much advice and information available – sometimes it can be hard for businesses and education to cut through the white noise to get what is needed.”
To date The STEM Project had engaged with various organisations in education and business regionally and internationally. From designing and delivering an interactive, inspiring STEM day for 300 Year Six students online to designing inspirational and impactful frameworks that will harness the power of an organisation’s sites across the UK to create more amazing opportunities for students and their staff, to hosting education strategy workshops for businesses, Laura and the collective behind The STEM Project are an inspiring force.
“I have seen first-hand how important inspiring programmes like these are to workforces. I have seen engaged workforce members develop skills in education strategy programmes and put them into practice consistently, which has in turn led to them being recognised internally for new senior roles and positions due to their passion and abilities being able to shine. It’s a case of two birds (workforce and next generation) with one stone (a strong education strategy).”
In five easy steps, The STEM Project has identified a way it can support any organisation with any budget to do the same – inspire the next generation, and the workforce.