At SThree, we pride ourselves on our commitment to CSR through a range of initiatives that seek to aid wider communities and create inclusive, diverse and limitless working environments. In striving to achieve this, we have created the Future Talent Programme.
The Future Talent Programme is the first project that’s being undertaken by the SThree Foundation, which has been established to support promising young individuals from diverse and underprivileged backgrounds, allowing their potential to be channelled through real life, tangible work experience in the STEM industries (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
Shortfall of STEM employees in the UK
In 2016, there were 5,554,701 STEM jobs in the UK, however every year, approximately 69,000 jobs are left unfilled due to skill shortage. Unless we see a dramatic change, key growth industries in the UK look set to stall, with the potential to fall even further behind European countries.
In a mission to support the industries that we work with and to help guide young people into positive destinations, we have collaborated with charity partner Generating Genius to tackle the problem at its roots. Together, we’re working to ensure that bright students from a variety of backgrounds who display an interest in STEM subjects are given the adequate support and guidance needed to allow them the opportunity to develop a career in STEM.
According to a study by City and Guilds (source: SThree Foundation Brochure), around 80% of employers believe that work experience is an essential requirement when recruiting new staff members, and two-thirds of employers would be more likely to hire a young person with work experience over someone with none. In order to give a diverse range of young people a chance to gain the tools to succeed in STEM industries, the Future Talent Programme is working closely with a number of companies to provide an eclectic mix of students industry related work experience placements.
Dr Tony Sewell CBE, the founder and CEO of Generating Genius, articulated that the programme is not only of great value to students, but to businesses taking part, “If you hire from your networks, things will never change. Tapping into pre-university talent is the only way to encourage diversity in STEM firms.”
Gender imbalance in STEM industries
Alongside the overall skill shortage, another pressing issue that SThree is passionate about overcoming is the gender imbalance present across the STEM industries. At GCSE level, the ratio of young male and female people studying STEM subjects is almost a 50:50 split, however, as these students go on to develop careers, only 21% of the population working in STEM roles are female.
What is happening from education to industry that is causing this lack of diversity? According to the UK Engineering Report 2015 (source: SThree Foundation Brochure), an increase in women working for STEM industries could also result in an extra £2 billion for the UK economy. In order to address this issue, the SThree Foundation is eager to encourage young women to progress, and as a result at least 60% of those selected for the Future Talent Programme are female.
Opportunities for young people
In autumn of last year, we engaged with over 30 schools in disadvantaged areas in London, with our SThree volunteers going into 10 schools. From over 200 applications, we selected 50 promising students to take part in the two year programme.
Thanks to the hard work of numerous SThree employees, the first 19 students were able to begin their placements in February, working at a range of businesses including Broadbean, Salesforce, Media IQ Digital, Barts Health NHS Trust, techUK, Sanderson House, RBS and Waltham Forrest Clinical Commissioning Group.
Last week, we had a further 10 students on placements with employers such as Ringway Jacobs, Xactly, LIDA part of M&C Saatchi, and SThree’s own Group IT department.Although the programme is only just beginning, we’re optimistic that these placements will truly allow the talent of today to flourish tomorrow, with students already gaining valuable insights into STEM industries.
Lydwine is passionate about pursuing a career in the technology industry, and thanks to the Future Talent Programme, her eyes have been opened, “I’ve learned about a sector of technology that I didn’t actually realise was there, I also learned that I really want to go into this industry”.
If we can inspire a diverse group of young people to learn more about what a career in STEM really means for them and give them the tools to succeed, then we can really help to fill the industry shortfall and work towards achieving a more diverse pool of employees.
The importance of investing in STEM
Our CEO Gary Elden succinctly summed up the importance and impact of the programme; “we need to act now to ensure we identify the key talent of tomorrow. We have a responsibility to ensure that we make career opportunities available to diverse talent for innovation and sustainable growth, and to help change young lives.”
An investment in STEM at a young age is imperative, as Lin Proctor, Director of Raising Aspirations highlights, “60% of the jobs students will do haven’t been invented yet and an awful lot of those jobs will be in STEM”. The Future Talent Programme not only provides gifted young people with an opportunity to grow, but gives companies the opportunity to tap into a pool of academic, reliable students who will be a true asset to any organisation.
Find out more about the SThree Foundation on sthree.com or watch the video below.