From education to employment

Ambassadors mission to ‘STEM’ engineering skills gap

UK Power Networks. Smartmeter trainee Alex Sanderson

New engineering ambassadors at Britain’s biggest electricity network are advising young people about exciting career opportunities at the heart of a low carbon future.

UK Power Networks has established a vibrant new team of Science Technology Engineering and Maths (STEM) ambassadors during British Science Week (March 11-20), set to become diverse and relatable engineering role models. More than 70 employees have registered to become STEM ambassadors and will be ready to volunteer within weeks.

The electricity specialists want to show young people how exciting engineering careers are within their grasp. Events will include interactive school, college and youth group visits, careers fairs, mentoring and work experience.  

Alex Sturge, head of communications, engagement and development at UK Power Networks, said:

“We want to engage and inspire students throughout their education, from primary school children to university students. Young people are enthusiastic about sustainability and Net Zero and we are working right at the heart of that.

“STEM ambassadors have an important role talking about what life is like in an engineering company in the electricity and utility sector. This will help our whole sector and is integral to attracting and retaining a diverse and inclusive workforce to achieve our business goals.

“Our ambassadors have a passion, feel proud of the industry they work in and can show how the immense opportunities in our industry are accessible to everyone.”

Employees at UK Power Networks have two paid days leave each year to volunteer in their communities and STEM ambassadors can use this time to share their passion for their vocation.

Vienna McAndie, from STEM Learning’s STEM Ambassador Programme, said: “Children are naturally inquisitive and fascinated about science and other STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), but don’t necessarily consider a career based on these subjects, as an option for them.

“We want to broaden young people’s awareness of the types of jobs STEM skills can lead to and challenge stereotypes of what a STEM professional is. We hope to add to a child’s Science Capital so they can visualise choosing this type of career for themselves. There is a significant shortage of skilled applicants for STEM jobs and the gap widens every year, but early intervention through education can show children the possibilities of their own future careers.

“We need to show young people role models who look like them, have similar backgrounds and can show the huge variety of careers paths they could have. STEM Ambassadors are a powerful way to do this. They inspire young people by showing them real world examples of STEM careers, as well as supporting teachers by providing a ‘wow’ factor, alongside contextualising subjects taught in the classroom.

“We want to make sure everyone has the same opportunities when they come to choose their career path and UK Power Networks STEM Ambassadors will support our goals.”

STEM Ambassadors have undergone enhanced background checks to volunteer with children, complete safeguarding training and have significant opportunities for their own professional development. The STEM Ambassador programme is funded by UKRI to be free for everyone involved.

To become a STEM Ambassador visit here.

UK Power Networks’ STEM ambassadors will support the company’s Levelling Up agenda. UK Power Networks was the first electricity network to partner with Levelling Up Goals, producing a social mobility action plan for recruitment, engagement, safety, D&I, customer vulnerability and energy transition. This benchmark will help the company ensure everyone has the same opportunities in life, benefiting employees and its communities.

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