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In an environment of increased career anxiety for young people, recent research from @_EngineeringUK  found that during lockdown (March to July 2020) 76% had not taken part in any formal careers activity, such as a careers guidance session or an online work experience. 

With the majority of young people feeling that the coronavirus pandemic will adversely affect the educational routes and job opportunities available to them, EngineeringUK has launched Neon a digital platform that gives teachers easy access to quality assured online and offline engineering outreach activities. For the first time, Neon brings together the UK’s engineering experiences and career resources in one place, bringing STEM careers to life. With the support of the engineering community Neon empowers teachers with the tools they need to engage young people in a career in the engineering sector, which makes up nearly 20% of the workforce

Further research from EngineeringUK shows that young people who have taken part in a STEM careers activity are three times more likely to consider a career in engineering. However, only 13% of young people took part in any formal STEM related careers activity during lockdown

Hilary Leevers, CEO of EngineeringUK explained:

“It is a critical time to provide high-quality careers information that empowers young people, regardless of their background, to make informed decisions about their education and careers. Teachers are key to this and must be supported to deliver impactful experiences even in these challenging circumstances. Neon offers a way for teachers to easily engage with a range of inclusive and diverse engineering experiences, safe in the knowledge that each activity is quality assured, helping young people to form vital links between school learning and real careers.”

Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister said:

“It’s vital that everyone, regardless of their background, is able to fulfil their potential and gain the knowledge and skills they need to build a successful career.

“Now more than ever, it’s crucial that students of all ages are aware of the high skill, high wage careers in STEM so they can get the right advice to enter the world of work. Neon will help teachers shine a light on these opportunities through high quality careers information. I encourage all young people looking for new opportunities to check out all the support on offer.”

With a focus on accessibility and inclusivity, Neon offers teachers a trusted resource to help research and plan engineering experiences and outreach activities, aligned to the Gatsby Benchmarks of good career guidance.

Since lockdown, providers of engineering experiences and outreach activities have had to rapidly rethink their offerings so they are Covid-secure. Neon offers a growing list of in-class, online and external experiences which are easily searchable, all quality assured and Covid-secure. Everything from tackling real world engineering problems in class, to live online sessions to create a future city, to creating virtual racing cars are listed and there is also a range of careers resources.

Sarah Howells, whose son Freddie (14) was the Junior Engineering category winner in The Big Bang UK Young Scientists & Engineers Competition 2020 said:

“Coronavirus has meant that Freddie has missed out on STEM events and experiences he was looking forward to, which is a real shame but understandable in the current climate. Taking part in competitions, meeting engineers and other young people has inspired his passion for engineering and built his confidence tremendously. Although safety must be the first concern right now, it would be a tragedy if young people miss out altogether on these kinds of opportunities due to coronavirus. For example, it would be hugely beneficial if employers were able to offer more online STEM experiences while face-to-face visits are limited.”    

David Lakin, IET Head of Education, said: “With the extraordinary situation we currently find ourselves in, it’s vital that young people are able to receive the education and career support they need to make informed decisions about their future careers. With so many great STEM initiatives to choose from, it can be difficult for teachers to navigate the wealth of offerings, which is why Neon has been created to consolidate STEM providers from across the UK into one go-to digital platform. By providing easy access to STEM initiatives, Neon will be able to help support STEM education, experiences and career information in schools and inspire more young people to consider engineering as a career choice to engineer a better world for us all.”

Hilary Leevers, CEO of EngineeringUK added: 

“Uncertainty about the future has become the characteristic of our times. This hits young people especially hard. Our research shows that the majority of young people aged 11 to 19 feel that the coronavirus pandemic has made going to university and finding a job in the future more difficult.

“The opportunities offered by a career in engineering are wide-reaching, with the sector continuing to attract funding and investment as it is recognised as pivotal to current challenges from coronavirus to climate change. Meeting these challenges requires creative and diverse thinking, collaboration and innovation. As such, driving diversity in engineering has never been more important and with young people’s growing concerns about their future career prospects, this means offering inclusive and engaging careers experiences and information is vital.” 

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