Westminster City Council has been working in partnership with the Victoria Business Improvement District and local employers to deliver a range of student events focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) as part of British Science Week.
Over the course of five days, over 350 young people from schools across Westminster met with the local business community to explore local STEM careers. Key events included a Construction and Technology Careers Day, organised by Land Securities, and an assembly exploring engineering career routes delivered by Network Rail.
One of the highlights of the week was an exclusive introductory talk and Virtual Reality session with the Head of Engineering for DP World. 20 students from St Augustine’s CoE High School in Westminster attended an afternoon of presentations about their company and a heritage tour with the senior curator of DP World.
Abdel Ydri, Work Related Learning Manager at St Augustine’s CoE High School said: “Our students learnt a great deal about the construction and engineering sector through this visit. The tour gave a unique insight into discovering what goes on behind the scenes at their terminals and the exciting job roles and educational routes available. The office tour, together with the use of DP World’s virtual reality equipment made the event not just educational but fun, allowing more to be inspired by STEM related career opportunities.”
STEM graduates are in short supply across the country. While the number of STEM graduates has risen, it has not kept pace with the increase in demand. Over forty percent of employers now report difficulties in recruiting STEM proficient staff.
Ruth Duston, CEO of the Victoria Business Improvement District said: "We are proud to be involved in this initiative which helps respond to a skills gap we see in the STEM sector. The BID recognises the benefit of connecting the young people of Westminster to jobs and sectors that are right on their doorstep. This will not only raise young people’s aspirations, it will benefit businesses in the area by connecting them to a suitably skilled potential future workforce."
The Sir Simon Milton Westminster University Technical College, opening this September as the first UTC in Westminster, is currently recruiting its first cohort to help bridge the STEM skills gap further. In another British Science Week event, prospective UTC students visited the Kings Court and Carriage Hall construction site in Covent Garden courtesy of Sir Robert McAlpine, getting a unique behind the scenes look at the largest development project in the area since the construction of the Royal Opera House.
Cllr Richard Holloway, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Young People said: “It is fantastic that our students have had the opportunity to meet with local employers and experience first-hand how science, technology and engineering feature in our city. The new UTC will continue this ‘real world’ education and ensure that the strong links between our schools, colleges and the local business community will continue to give Westminster’s young people the very best start in life.”