EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Children get a taste for engineering
A Gloucestershire managing director had children welding with chocolate, in his campaign to recruit the engineers and scientists of the future. Andrew Robinson, MD of Arc Energy Resources, returned to his old school - Wycliffe College - to take part in its STEM Day. More than 400 children from nine primary schools were involved in the day in Stonehouse, which included displays, talks and lots of hands-on experience. Arc Energy Resources, based in Eastington, is a specialist welding company and employs 70 people. Mr Robinson says such events are vital for his company’s growth and for the sector as a whole. “It’s essential to have days like this,” said Mr Robinson. “We are well aware there is a massive skills shortage in engineering and science, and we have to find a way of addressing that. “If we want there to be engineers and welders and project managers available in the future, then we need to get them excited about science and maths at primary school age. “There is no point in going along to careers fairs and saying ‘I’m a welding company, come and talk to me’ if they have already switched off from STEM by the time they are age 10 or 11.When they get to 16 and GCSEs, or 18 and A Levels, they're not doing science. “You have to hit them early on, at late primary age, and show them that science is really exciting. Think about the world around them, think about problem solving and what they could do with science and with maths. “Tell them a bit about engineering, because they don’t study it at school – it’s not a discrete subject.”
Arc Energy Resources takes part in many events, including Festomane, Stroud Ambitions and Go4SET. Mr Robinson believes more companies need to get involved in encouraging young people to consider STEM careers. What was often lacking, he said, was the structure to make that happen and to get companies and schools in touch with each other to understand what can be done.
“I think there are a lot of businesses out there that want to do more with schools, but don’t know how to. “We’re fortunate as we are already heavily involved with local schools and colleges. We do apprenticeships and work experience, so we understand how it works. Therefore, we have the inroads into those opportunities. “Smaller companies may not have the time or resources to devote to it. A company will find it difficult to walk into a school and offer some unspecific assistance, equally a school is unlikely to wander into a business and vaguely ask for help – we need to develop the structures that connect the academic and commercial worlds.” Other companies taking part in the Wycliffe STEM day included: Primitive Technology, Renishaw, Avantis and Rolls-Royce. Matt Archer, head of sixth form at
Punchline’s next issue, The Annual 2019 will be published in February
58 | December 2018 | www. punchline-gloucester .com
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