Winning category: STEM Rising Star of the Year

Brief description of business:

CNECT Wales is a not-for-profit membership organisation which has supported and represented pan-industry contact centres for over 20 years. Its services range from training and education to research and advice with its members dealing with a complex range of customer service issues from holidays to healthcare.

As part of its service offering, the company offers two successful Graduate Programmes, which have been running for 10 years in partnership with leading Welsh employers.  ‘Graduate Programme Wales’ was set up to attract and develop STEM graduates into roles within Data, AI and Financial Services with a view of keeping high calibre talent in Wales.

Managed by CNECT Wales and part-funded by the European Social Fund, the programmes include a two-year financial services programme and a fast-track data/ai programme which is delivered at Post Graduate level for 10 months – both resulting in hands on work experience and a fully funded post-graduate qualification.

Why they deserved to win their category:

Morgan Phillips was nominated by CNECT Wales for his hard work and commitment at his placement at Pepper Money, a specialist mortgage lender in Cardiff. A protégée of Graduate Programme Wales’ data and AI programme, Morgan has made a significant impact on Pepper Money in just a short space of time through regularly suggesting improvements to model best practices, redesigning forecasting tools, and creating improvements to the company’s overall efficiency.

How does the individual, business, or organisation further the STEM sector in Wales?

Graduate Programme Wales has made a positive impact on the STEM sector in Wales since its evolution in 2016. It continues to help businesses solve internal challenges and to retain our national talent in its local businesses.

Since launching, 46 graduates have completed the programme and a further 20 are due to complete by the end of this year. As a result, 98% of the cohort have been successful in securing jobs in the STEM sector.

As well as attracting graduates, CNECT are keen to reach primary school children to educate them on STEM based careers and hope to roll out a programme to do so in the near future. Ultimately, its programmes are bridging the gap between education and industry to help attract talent into STEM careers, nurturing this talent through a business approved tailored curriculum and helping individuals to secure full time, permanent positions in the field of their choice – a 360 solution to the skills shortage of talent the sector is facing.