From education to employment

New funding to inspire young people in ‘tech valleys’ to be scientists, technologists, engineers and mathematicians of the future

All primary and secondary school pupils in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil will soon be able to engage with an exciting range of local science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) employers as part of a new effort to inspire and encourage more young people into high-skilled STEM careers, the Welsh Government has announced.

The Welsh Valleys Engineering Project (WVEP) is an initiative developed jointly by the Panasonic Trust and the Royal Academy of Engineering that started in 2018, funded by the Trust and delivered by the Academy.

Its aim is to create centres of excellence in STEM teaching and improve learning opportunities in the South Wales valleys by bringing real-world engineering practice into schools and colleges.

The programme helps enrich the curriculum, enhances pupil engagement, and provides high-quality learning experiences through additional STEM teaching and engagement with STEM-related companies, raising the aspirations of learners about opportunities available to them. The programme is particularly keen to help increase diversity in STEM careers, engaging with groups that are currently under-represented in engineering.

The WVEP currently works with Coleg Gwent and Merthyr College, along with eight secondary schools and five primary schools in the area. It has so far provided more than 20,000 STEM learning opportunities and has awarded 69 Panasonic Trust Future Engineer bursaries to post-16 students, with 33% of bursaries awarded to women students in academic year 20/21.

The programme will receive £348,377 over four years from the Welsh Government’s Tech Valleys Programme, extending the WVEP’s employer engagement strand to cover all 53 schools in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil from the spring term of 2022.

The expansion will help create a sustainable legacy through better-resourced schools, upskilled teachers and closer alignment between the STEM curriculum and the needs of STEM businesses in the area. It will also offer valuable opportunities for social mobility and contribute to the pipeline of highly skilled workers that the Welsh Government’s £100 million Tech Valleys programme aims to facilitate.

Throughout the period of the expanded project, the Panasonic Trust will continue to fund Future Engineer bursaries for students continuing into Further Education, with an extension to funding those continuing yet further into Higher Education.

STEM forms an integral part of the Curriculum for Wales, alongside preparing learners for study, employment and life in the 21st century. 

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething said:

“My ambition is to make Wales a place where more young people feel confident in planning their future. My message to them is you don’t have to get out to get on.

“Programmes like this provide a crucial practical part in creating optimism around this vision. It enriches the curriculum, enhances pupil engagement, and inspires students by bringing real-world engineering practice into schools.

“Through Tech Valleys, the Welsh Government is committed to business growth across the south Wales valleys and expanding the base of technology-driven organisations we have in the area. We want to support all businesses to innovate and strive for world-leading technologies.

“We are already a destination of choice for exceptional companies and projects. This programme, through genuine collaboration with local authorities, businesses and schools, is a long-term commitment to creating centres of excellence in STEM learning and fostering the future workforce for these businesses and initiatives to reach even greater heights in the future. It could inform a Wales-wide roll out of the model.”

WVEP is delivered by The Royal Academy of Engineering, a charity focused on harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone.

Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, CEO of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said: 

I am absolutely delighted that our ambitious plans to extend the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project’s employer engagement have been realised and that the Academy is able to strengthen and broaden its engagement in Wales. One of the main aims of the Academy is to support the development of an inclusive economy, and that includes identifying and engaging with schools in areas of low social mobility, providing equity of access to science and engineering for the students in these areas, and developing their skills for the future. By building long-lasting local partnerships between schools and employers in these areas, we can also work together to contribute towards the creation of an engineering skills base better able to meet regional needs.”

Jeremy Miles, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, said:

“I’m very pleased to see the extension of WVEP to schools across Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil – the success of the programme thus far is testament to the effort which schools and employers have put in to widening opportunities for young people in this part of Wales, and I’m delighted to see it going from strength to strength.

“Programmes such as these equip all learners – no matter if they continue in STEM-related careers or not – so they can thrive in a world driven by science and technology. Ensuring we have skilled learners in these fields is vital to our economic prospects here in Wales.

“Our Tertiary Education and Research Bill – introduced at the Senedd earlier this month – sets out our plans for radical reform in the post-16 education sector, ensuring more and more people have access to greater learning and training opportunities after they reach the end of their compulsory schooling. Programmes such as WVEP show we can help young people move into those fields by training them in sought-after skills while still in school, and I look forward to seeing the programme’s success in the future.”

The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public. Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age.

The Panasonic Trust for the further education and training of engineers is a registered charity that was established on 30 October 1984.  The objective of the Trust is to extend the education and training of industrial engineers in the fields of engineering such as electronic systems engineering, environmental studies, energy and new materials.  This may be achieved by the establishment and award of grant scholarships, fellowships, lectureships, competitions, prizes and awards.  The Panasonic Trust have been funding the Welsh Valleys Engineering Programme since its launch in 2018 and will continue to fund it, alongside the Welsh Government, allowing the Programme to continue the annual awarding of up to 20 Panasonic Trust Future Engineer bursaries to Post-16 students.  These students will be instrumental in supporting the extension of the employer engagement strand.

The Tech Valleys programme is a ten-year, £100 million commitment by the Welsh Government with Blaenau Gwent at its heart.  Building on the region’s long-standing manufacturing heritage, Tech Valleys aims to capitalise on the opportunities arising from the fourth industrial revolution – particularly in the areas of 5G, battery technology, digital and cyber research and application – supporting high value, sustainable jobs, attracting investment and creating opportunities for the region. In line with the Welsh Government’s Economic Action Plan, the Tech Valleys programme has the principles of growth, fair work and decarbonisation at its heart.

Cyllid newydd i ysbrydoli pobl ifanc yn y ‘cymoedd technoleg’ i fod yn wyddonwyr, technolegwyr, peirianwyr a mathemategwyr y dyfodol

Cyn bo hir, bydd pob disgybl ysgol gynradd ac uwchradd ym Mlaenau Gwent a Merthyr Tudful yn gallu ymgysylltu ag ystod gyffrous o gyflogwyr gwyddoniaeth, technoleg, peirianneg a mathemateg (STEM) lleol fel rhan o ymdrech newydd i ysbrydoli ac annog mwy o bobl ifanc i ddilyn gyrfaoedd STEM medrus iawn, yn ôl cyhoeddiad gan Lywodraeth Cymru.

Mae Prosiect Peirianneg y Cymoedd (WVEP) yn fenter a ddatblygwyd ar y cyd gan Ymddiriedolaeth Panasonic a’r Academi Frenhinol Peirianneg. Dechreuodd yn 2018, ac mae’n cael ei ariannu gan yr Ymddiriedolaeth a’i gynnal gan yr Academi. Ei nod yw creu canolfannau rhagoriaeth mewn addysgu STEM a gwella cyfleoedd dysgu yng nghymoedd y de drwy ddod ag arferion peirianneg y byd go iawn i ysgolion a cholegau.

Mae’r rhaglen yn helpu i gyfoethogi’r cwricwlwm, yn ennyn diddordeb disgyblion, ac yn darparu profiadau dysgu o ansawdd uchel drwy addysgu ac ymgysylltiad ychwanegol â chwmnïau STEM, gan godi uchelgais dysgwyr am y cyfleoedd sydd ar gael iddynt. Mae’r rhaglen yn arbennig o awyddus i helpu i gynyddu amrywiaeth mewn gyrfaoedd STEM, gan ymgysylltu â grwpiau nad ydynt yn cael eu cynrychioli’n ddigonol mewn peirianneg ar hyn o bryd.

Ar hyn o bryd mae’r WVEP yn gweithio gyda Choleg Gwent a Choleg Merthyr, ynghyd ag wyth ysgol uwchradd a phum ysgol gynradd yn yr ardal. Hyd yma, mae wedi darparu dros 20,000 o gyfleoedd dysgu STEM ac mae wedi dyfarnu 69 o fwrsariaethau Peiriannydd y Dyfodol Ymddiriedolaeth Panasonic i fyfyrwyr ôl-16, gyda 33% o’r bwrsariaethau’n cael eu dyfarnu i fyfyrwyr benywaidd ym mlwyddyn academaidd 20/21.

Bydd y rhaglen yn derbyn £348,377 dros bedair blynedd o Raglen Cymoedd Technoleg Llywodraeth Cymru, gan ymestyn gwaith ymgysylltu â chyflogwyr WVEP i gynnwys pob un o’r 53 ysgol ym Mlaenau Gwent a Merthyr Tudful o dymor y gwanwyn 2022.

Bydd hyn yn helpu i greu etifeddiaeth gynaliadwy drwy ysgolion ag adnoddau gwell, athrawon wedi uwchsgilio a mwy o gysondeb rhwng y cwricwlwm STEM ac anghenion busnesau STEM yn yr ardal. Bydd hefyd yn cynnig cyfleoedd gwerthfawr ar gyfer symudedd cymdeithasol ac yn cyfrannu at y cyflenwad o weithwyr medrus iawn y mae rhaglen Cymoedd Technoleg gwerth £100 miliwn Llywodraeth Cymru yn anelu at ei hwyluso.

Drwy gydol cyfnod y prosiect estynedig, bydd Ymddiriedolaeth Panasonic yn parhau i ariannu bwrsariaethau Peiriannydd y Dyfodol i fyfyrwyr sy’n symud ymlaen i Addysg Bellach, gydag estyniad i ariannu’r rhai sy’n mynd ymlaen eto i Addysg Uwch.

Mae STEM yn rhan annatod o’r Cwricwlwm i Gymru, ochr yn ochr â pharatoi dysgwyr ar gyfer astudio, cyflogaeth a bywyd yn yr 21ain ganrif.

Dywedodd Gweinidog yr Economi, Vaughan Gething: “Fy uchelgais yw gwneud Cymru yn wlad lle mae mwy o bobl ifanc yn teimlo’n hyderus wrth gynllunio eu dyfodol. Fy neges iddyn nhw yw nad oes rhaid i chi symud i ffwrdd i symud ymlaen.

“Mae rhaglenni fel hyn yn hanfodol ar gyfer creu optimistiaeth ynghylch y weledigaeth hon. Mae’n cyfoethogi’r cwricwlwm, yn ennyn diddordeb disgyblion, ac yn ysbrydoli myfyrwyr drwy ddod ag arferion peirianneg o’r byd go iawn i ysgolion.

“Drwy’r Cymoedd Technoleg, mae Llywodraeth Cymru wedi ymrwymo i sicrhau twf busnesau ar draws cymoedd y de ac ehangu’r sylfaen o sefydliadau technoleg sydd gennym yn yr ardal. Rydyn ni am helpu pob busnes i arloesi ac ymdrechu i gael technolegau o’r radd flaenaf.

“Rydyn ni eisoes yn gyrchfan o ddewis i gwmnïau a phrosiectau eithriadol. Mae’r rhaglen hon, drwy gydweithio o ddifri ag awdurdodau lleol, busnesau ac ysgolion, yn ymrwymiad hirdymor i greu canolfannau rhagoriaeth mewn dysgu STEM a meithrin gweithlu’r dyfodol, er mwyn i’r busnesau a’r mentrau hyn fedru cyflawni mwy fyth yn y dyfodol. Gallai lywio’r gwaith o gyflwyno’r model ledled Cymru.”

Cyflwynir WVEP gan yr Academi Frenhinol Peirianneg, elusen sy’n canolbwyntio ar harneisio grym peirianneg i adeiladu cymdeithas gynaliadwy ac economi gynhwysol sy’n gweithio i bawb.

Dywedodd Dr Hayaatun Sillem CBE, Prif Swyddog Gweithredol yr Academi Frenhinol Peirianneg: “Rwy’ wrth fy modd bod ein cynlluniau uchelgeisiol i ymestyn ymgysylltiad cyflogwyr drwy Brosiect Peirianneg y Cymoedd wedi’u gwireddu a bod yr Academi’n gallu cryfhau ac ehangu ei gwaith yng Nghymru. Un o brif amcanion yr Academi yw cefnogi datblygiad economi gynhwysol, ac mae hynny’n cynnwys ymgysylltu ag ysgolion mewn ardaloedd o symudedd cymdeithasol isel, darparu mynediad cyfartal i wyddoniaeth a pheirianneg i’r myfyrwyr yn yr ardaloedd hyn, a datblygu eu sgiliau ar gyfer y dyfodol. Drwy adeiladu partneriaethau lleol hirdymor rhwng ysgolion a chyflogwyr yn yr ardaloedd hyn, gallwn hefyd gydweithio i gyfrannu at greu sylfaen o sgiliau peirianneg sy’n gallu diwallu anghenion rhanbarthol yn well.”

Dywedodd Jeremy Miles, Gweinidog y Gymraeg ac Addysg: “Rwy’n falch iawn o weld y cynllun WVEP yn cael ei ymestyn i ysgolion ar draws Blaenau Gwent a Merthyr Tudful – mae llwyddiant y rhaglen hyd yma yn dyst i ymdrechion ysgolion a chyflogwyr i ehangu cyfleoedd i bobl ifanc yn y rhan hon o Gymru,  ac mae’n wych gweld hyn yn mynd o nerth i nerth.

“Mae rhaglenni fel y rhain yn werthfawr i bob dysgwr – boed yn symud ymlaen i yrfaoedd sy’n gysylltiedig â STEM ai peidio – fel y gallant ffynnu mewn byd sy’n cael ei yrru gan wyddoniaeth a thechnoleg. Mae sicrhau bod gennym ddysgwyr medrus yn y meysydd hyn yn hanfodol i’n rhagolygon economaidd yma yng Nghymru.

“Mae ein Bil Addysg Drydyddol ac Ymchwil – a gyflwynwyd yn y Senedd yn gynharach y mis hwn – yn nodi ein cynlluniau ar gyfer diwygiadau radical yn y sector addysg ôl-16, gan sicrhau bod mwy a mwy o bobl yn cael mynediad at fwy o gyfleoedd dysgu a hyfforddi ar ôl iddynt gyrraedd diwedd eu haddysg orfodol. Mae rhaglenni fel WVEP yn dangos y gallwn helpu pobl ifanc i symud i’r meysydd hynny drwy eu hyfforddi mewn sgiliau gwerthfawr tra byddant yn dal i fod yn yr ysgol, ac edrychaf ymlaen at weld llwyddiant y rhaglen yn y dyfodol.”

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