Why did you enter the Wales STEM Awards?
We decided to enter the Wales STEM Awards as we feel that we have made a big contribution towards the STEM agenda in Wales over the last few years, particularly through our STEM Cymru project. We were able to continued delivery during the pandemic and have since increased our engagement with schools across Wales back to higher levels than prior to the pandemic.
What did winning mean for you or your business?
We were so pleased to win the STEM Educational Programme of the Year award which has recognised the work of our charity over the years, and the efforts and time committed by our dedicated staff who work so hard as a team to achieve positive outcomes across Wales. In addition, following the announcement of the award, the news has been shared locally and we’re really grateful that this has helped to raise our profile and share the word about our work.
What did you think of the awards ceremony?
The awards ceremony was a superb event which brought together all organisation involved in STEM, and provided an opportunity for us to widen our network and create new links. We were also able to meet face to face with organisations we are already collaborating with, which was a nice opportunity to share in everyone’s success on the evening.
What’s been a challenge for you or your business during the last year and how did you overcome it?
There has been a lot of change in the education system recently with the new Curriculum for Wales 2022, as well as changes in the funding landscape, which is very much ongoing. We strive to keep up to date with all the changes in both education and industry as well as with national and global issues such sustainability, to ensure that our offering is relevant to the values of young people and their future skills needs.
What’s been a highlight for you or your business over the last year and why?
During the last year, we were successful in gaining funding through the UK Community Renewal Fund to run two projects in six local authorities called Transforming Young Minds for Tomorrow and Connecting Teachers with Industry. These projects have been really successful in engaging with primary schools on a regional level, to expand on our activity offering and target pupils at a younger age. Only five percent of primary school teachers have a STEM background, and therefore have little confidence in delivering any engineering content as part of their school syllabus.
What are your goals for 2023?
With some of our projects due to close at the end of December 2022 and June 2023, we are looking to develop our activities to explore upcoming opportunities and form a new offering for our stakeholders. We hope that we will be successful in gaining new funding to enable us to grow our network even further, and support as many young people as possible.
What, in your opinion, can be done to inspire more young people to pursue careers in STEM?
Our activities are exciting, practical, challenging and are all targeted to further the aim of increasing awareness of the STEM sector, and its importance to the quality of life and for a sustainable future in Wales. We run a specific Girls into STEM activity to target the need to introduce more females into careers, which was recently highlighted as a key issue by the Welsh Government’s Gender Equality in STEM report. We also work to target schools that meet Engineering UK’s Equality Diversity and Inclusion aims to inspire a diverse engineering workforce. Many of our past students are now in industry and have re-engaged with us for the benefit of future generations coming through the education system.
What, or who, is exciting you in the STEM sector in Wales?
There are lots of new opportunities arising in STEM in Wales, particularly around in the Fintech and Compound Semi-Conductor sectors, both of which are experiencing skills shortages in Wales. We are keen to work with both of these groups to assist where we can to address this shortage, as we recognise that we have an important role to play in bridging the gap between Education and Industry.
What do you think could be done to help the STEM sector in Wales?
We hope that with future funding, we will be able to continue working with partners such as the universities in Wales, Careers Wales, WJEC, the British Science Association through their CREST Awards, Engineering UK, the South Wales Industrial Cluster, the IET, IMechE, IChemE, Welsh Automotive Forum and Industry Wales to continue raising aims and aspirations of young people in STEM, which is key to the future of the economy of Wales.