Inspire Education Programme
EDF Energy’s Nuclear New Build (NNB) ‘Inspire’ Education Programme is preparing young Somerset people for the opportunities that will arrive with the construction and operation of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C (HPC) in Somerset. The HPC Project will require skilled workers with a good foundation in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects.
The programme began in the Autumn Term of 2011 and aims to inspire young people to continue to study STEM subjects – building a sustainable legacy for the future through a pipeline from education to skills and into future long-term employment. The programme aims to work in collaboration with education and key partners to help close this gap and create a framework that will support skills development and pathways into work.
Through a range of innovative activities across Somerset, we are helping prepare young people to take advantage of the huge opportunities that the construction and operation of Hinkley Point C will bring. By working with young people of all ages, encouraging them to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, we hope that they will be inspired to enter one of the many future STEM jobs that will be available – at EDF Energy and beyond.
Since the programme began, over 135,000 student interactions have taken place in almost 400 different locations across the County and South West region. Our work has led to a demonstrable improvement in interest in STEM subjects, helping to increase aspirations and guide students into long-term sustainable careers.
Careers Advice and Guidance
Through attendance at Bridgwater and Taunton College’s Apprentice open evening, Weston College’s ‘Brighter Futures’ careers fair and the regional Big Bang events Inspire’s ‘Employability’ programme reached approximately1100 young people, 40 Education professionals and 35Parents from across the SW.
Six day-long STEM workshops were delivered in partnership with STEMworks during the year. The highly interactive sessions that allow children to get hands-on with science and engineering reached 380 young people across the County.
Working in Partnership
- One of HPCs largest contractors, BYLOR (A joint venture between Bouygues TP and Laing O’Rourke) delivered the highly successful Institution of Civil Engineer’s Bridge Challenge across community groups and Bruton School for Girls. In total, 72 pupils got to grips with building a fully functional, 15 metre long cable stayed bridge from aluminium and plywood.
- The Inspire team also supported South Somerset Partnership’s ‘My Future 2017’ initiative, a record breaking 5 careers assemblies were delivered in 1 day to over 800 Year 8’s across 5 schools in the Yeovil area.
- Over the course of the year, the Inspire team have also supported 3 ‘Women into Construction and Engineering’ (WICE) sessions that taken place with Bridgwater and Taunton College. In total, Over 250 young women from a variety of schools across Somerset have now taken part, gaining a greater insight into some of the fantastic opportunities available in a historically male dominated sector.
- Bristol University’s ‘Chemlabs’ experience continues to provide engaging and interactive hands-on science experiments/demonstrations to primary schools across the region. During the 2016/2017 academic year, the Inspire team has helped in ensuring that sessions have been delivered as part of Primary/Secondary ‘transition’ day.
Every year, around 50 engineering and science students are invited to join us at Cannington Court for four days of exciting activities. The residential course introduces students to the challenges that face the modern low carbon world and gives them an opportunity to learn more about exciting industrial developments and the latest cutting edge technology. As well as meeting local dignitaries, the Young People had the opportunity to meet EDF Energy’s former CEO Vincent De Rivaz and the French Ambassador to the UK, Sylvie-Agnès Bermann.
EDF Energy’s online education programme (the Pod) has been actively used to enrich Inspire activities and its free resources/campaigns have been promoted to teachers and young people across the County. This includes the programme’s ‘What’s Under Your Feet’, a nationwide citizen science experiment, the ‘Waste Week’ campaign which encourages students to take the lead and develop transferable skills, and the youth social action campaign, ‘Helping Hands’, which encourages participation in community volunteering and fundraising.
Hinkley Point C Employment and Skills Pipeline
Conceived in the earliest stages of planning for Hinkley Point C, the education, skills and employment pipeline has been raising standards for best practice in major infrastructure projects ever since. Through a focus on engaging local schools, supporting students from the classroom into the world of work, building skills development and apprenticeship opportunities, and helping local people into work, the pipeline is raising the aspirations of a generation, and improving lives in some of the most deprived communities in the UK.
The HPC Project is also proud to be playing a leading role in delivering the aspirations of the Opportunity Areas to improve social-mobility across West Somerset. Working together with partners in the area including the Careers and Enterprise Company and National Citizens Service to develop our own education and skills initiatives, we have pledged to support children and young people to improve their skills and access to high quality work experiences.
Our pipeline approach has been recogised as industry leading in its approach to creating a lasting legacy for the region and was a finalist within Business in the Community’s Connected Places Award.
Our vision is to create an environment where no child in West Somerset is left behind. We know that by truly working together with local and national stakeholders who share our vision, we can make a difference over the next three years. No one school, college, university or employer can improve social mobility on their own and it’s vital we work together.
Fiona McMillan – Non-Executive Director, EDF Energy Nuclear New Build and Independent Chair of the West Somerset Opportunity Area
Gemma Howell who has grown up close to our Hinkley Point C Project has already benefitted from the opportunities that we are bringing to West Somerset and the South West region. Gemma, from Minehead, took part in one of our Inspire programme STEM assemblies when she was at school and it changed her thinking on career options completely.
"My first involvement with EDF Energy was seven years ago, in a Year 9 assembly, when a team of STEM ambassadors had come to my school to deliver a presentation. I’d always loved science but living in an area where tourism is the primary industry I’d never really understood where science could take me. It was the first time such an idea had been presented to me in such an accessible manner and that was it; I wanted a career in science.
I was in my final year of A levels when I began to fill out my university application - the automatic step. But I suddenly realised that it wasn’t for me. I withdrew my application for university and began looking into higher apprenticeship schemes. The idea of earning money instead of taking a student loan seemed an obvious choice and so I applied for the supply chain apprenticeship scheme with EDF Energy."
Hartlepool Sixth Form Mentoring Programme
In September 2012 Hartlepool power station launched a mentoring programme in formal partnership with local students from Hartlepool Sixth Form College. Since then, two other local schools (English Martyrs and Dyke House) have also joined the programme.
The objective of the mentoring programme is to encourage talented young people to consider studying science, technology, engineering and maths subjects through sixth form and university while engaging their interest and knowledge of EDF Energy as an ‘employer of choice’ besides showing the potential career opportunities back in the local area.
During the two year scheme the students are assigned a mentor who is on hand to give one to one advice and support. This, combined with visits to Hartlepool nuclear power station enables the students to build up a picture of life on the station and the nuclear industry in general.
The students also attend training courses to gain experience in important soft skills, such as CV writing and interview techniques as well as undergoing a competitive selection process and attending development centres.
At the end of the scheme, selected students are helped with an annual grant from EDF Energy along with the offer of summer placements and on-going support from their station mentors. Through their work with their mentors and the training courses they have attended, the students develop vital skills that will make them much more employable in the future: teamwork, effective communication, proactivity and reliability. Being a mentor also benefits EDF Energy staff, helping develop their leadership skills.
Charlotte McKenna & Ella Bloom
Students participating in mock assessment centre
Two students from the first cohort of the programme, Charlotte McKenna and Ella Bloomfield, have now joined the company as EDF Energy graduates and it is hoped that they will become mentors themselves in the future.
The Hartlepool sixth form mentoring programme attracts engineers of the future to EDF Energy. Through education we are inspiring the next generation, so the UK can continue the journey to a stronger, low-carbon future. Investing in our people will make sure the future of our company is a bright one.
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