Why did you enter the Wales STEM Awards?
We entered the STEM awards with the aim of showcasing the work we’ve done to attract and retain STEM graduates in Wales. Since the inception of both our programmes (Financial Services and Data/AI) we have collaborated with and helped 20 Welsh based businesses including Admiral, Atradius, s.a.global, Hodge Bank, Principality Building Society, Opel Vauxhall Finance and Pepper Money, gain access to 214 graduates through the programme, with an average of 91% securing well paid jobs by the end of their final placement. Our team have worked incredibly hard to ensure the running of both programmes simultaneously and to continue to strengthen the relationship we’ve built between industry and academia. Being nominated for a STEM award was a brilliant way to recognise the commitment of our team.
What did winning mean for you or your business?
It’s just been brilliant to have the recognition for our programme and all the work of everyone involved. We are so proud of what the programme offers to graduates, employers, the local economy, and communities.
What did you think of the awards ceremony?
We loved being part of the awards ceremony and felt the event was run very professionally. The venue was ideal too. Food was great.
What’s been a challenge for you or your business during the last year and how did you overcome it?
We’ve seen lots of our graduates come to terms with hybrid working and different approaches to that during their placements. Changing the way you work or prefer to work can be daunting and unsettling. We’ve overcome this by ensuring our employers are communicating clearly and fairly on their arrangements and expectations. We’ve also ensured that the graduates have had full support through the programme team and our programme liaison manager.
What’s been a highlight for you or your business over the last year and why?
We had lots of brilliant Highlights this year! Winning the Wales STEM award is a huge highlight! A few others would be the successful launch of 2 Fast Track 10 month PGDip Data/AI programmes, successfully arranging two lots of placements for over 36 graduates across 14 employers. Both have had their challenges but have had their rewards too!
What are your goals for 2023?
2023 is a key year for us. We will be leaving the Welsh European funding structure which is momentous! We will be celebrating our 10th year of successful programmes! We will also be planning for our new programmes running later 2023 into 2024, so no rest for the wicked! 2023 will be a busy year and we’re all really looking forward to it!
What, in your opinion, can be done to inspire more young people to pursue careers in STEM?
We are keen to utilise our wonderful Alumni to show the potential of all careers in STEM. We are also looking to continue to work with Careers Wales to support events at high schools to show how STEM careers can be extremely successful and interesting. We will also be working hard on our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion activity for our recruitment activity for our next programmes too.
What, or who, is exciting you in the STEM sector in Wales?
We’re loving seeing some of our STEM start-up consortium break into new markets and develop and launch new products. We’re also very excited about the innovation being developed using data for companies to improve customer journeys, improving service propositions, addressing challenges in fraud prevention. We’re also excited to see events that bring STEM graduates and employers together to address real world problems. There are new collaborations between Education and Industry being created now that the focus on STEM and these will go from strength to strength and we’re excited to be a part of that.
What do you think could be done to help the STEM sector in Wales?
Constant publication of successes and making Wales the HUB for STEM innovation and careers. Continued focus on attracting girls and women into STEM careers. Attracting companies and selling the benefits of STEM graduates and employment opportunities like our programme offers! (had to get that one in!)