Skills for Industry – Severn Trent Water design skills challenge for young people

Published 29th August 2017

The Design and Technology Association, working with Severn Trent Water, has helped more than 100 Coventry pupils develop essential business skills.  Through the Skills for Industry programme, the utilities company has gone back to the classroom to help local young people develop problem-solving skills.

For Severn Trent Water, problem-solving is a critical skill that they value in all their employees. The company worked with the Design and Technology Association to develop a curriculum resource that would encourage young people to be innovative and solution-focused. Pupils were given a design challenge in which they had to consider the wide range of factors impacting on the safe transit of water. Teachers and pupils were supported by apprentices from Severn Trent Water.

The programme has been a hit with teachers and pupils, with three-quarters of pupils agreeing that they had learnt more about local industry and the skills employers need. The programme has also enhanced young people’s awareness of careers and Apprenticeships in engineering and other STEM subjects.

We wanted to help young people think about STEM careers and Apprenticeships in local companies like Severn Trent Water.” Callum Sproull, Severn Trent Water Apprentices.

Like many employers, Severn Trent Water is aware of the need to encourage more young people with engineering and other STEM skills to enter careers with their company and the wider utilities sector. The company welcomed the chance to engage directly with young people through their design and technology curriculum and understand more about the wide range of career opportunities available to them locally:

The Skills for Industry project is vital to ensure that talented young people of all backgrounds are encouraged to pursue and develop their career paths with skills that underpin the continued growth and development of the UK.” - Jonathan Tait, Asset Creation Programme Manager, Severn Trent Water

The programme led to a significant increase in teacher and pupil awareness of apprenticeship opportunities, with 66% of participating pupils now keen to explore future opportunities.  “The project was really useful and has really given the pupils an insight into potential careers, post 16,” Liam Nagle, Design and Technology teacher, Cardinal Wiseman School

Teachers commented on the improvements to learner motivation too: “Our pupils have enjoyed engaging with Severn Trent Water, working with graduates and apprentices on real life industrial problems through a process of iterative problem solving.” - Pete Maguire, Design and Technology teacher, Finham Park School

Severn Trent Water were pleased with the positive impact that the programme had on young people’s skills. “We have enjoyed the opportunity to have a positive impact on young people’s skills and it was really pleasing to hear how much the pupils enjoyed engaging with us.” Jonathan Tait, Asset Creation Programme Manager, Severn Trent Water.

Skills for Industry complements the design and technology curriculum. It connects pupils with local employers and helps them to develop the technical and softer skills valued by employers. The programme inspires design and technology pupils, encouraging them to think about how the subject can lead to successful careers within the utilities, manufacturing, creative and digital industries.

Further programmes are now running in Warwickshire and the North East of England.

For more information about this projects and other projects nationwide contact Emma.watson@data.org.uk.

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