National Grid volunteer talking to school pupils

[6 October] National Grid launches skills programme to lead the way towards net zero

More than 100,000 pupils in South London will benefit from pioneering STEM skills and careers outreach programmes being launched by National Grid in association with MyKindaFuture, the UK’s leading underrepresented talent specialists.

The partnership will inspire pupils from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), through interactive workshops, creating a radio advert, form time and assembly takeovers as well as digital mentoring programmes.

According to research carried out by National Grid, the energy sector needs to fill 400,000 roles between now and 2050 to meet net zero. This innovative programme looks to support meeting this target, while at the same time giving students in some of London’s most disadvantaged areas greater opportunities to learn about the industry and the range of careers they could pursue, even during the pandemic. The programme will be offered to students in years 10-13 as research suggests that disadvantaged students are twice as likely to become NEET (not in education, employment or training) aged 18 than their more affluent peers.

The transformational programme was piloted in Southwark in early March to coincide with British Science and Engineering week, with the full programme now underway. The scheme will reach young people living in the seven boroughs of South London that are impacted by National Grid’s £1 billion London Power Tunnels (LPT) project to rewire the capital. The programme is aimed at reaching the most disadvantaged schools and young people within the area of the works, and will span five years, enabling sustained and impactful engagement with the capital’s young people.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its significant impact on schools has meant that underrepresented students need careers support more than ever; the virus’ economic effects have caused gaps in social mobility to widen, and school closures have led to greater inequalities in accessing education resources. Through the peak of the pandemic, just 23% of the most deprived schools had a suitable online platform in place to receive pupils’ work, compared to 60% of private schools[1]. In light of this, National Grid and MyKindaFuture have adapted the schools’ engagement programme to be largely virtual throughout 2020, with inbuilt flexibility allowing for a pivot to face-to-face, as circumstances allow.

The workshops will be led by volunteers, including our construction partner Hochtief Murphy, from the London Power Tunnels project, as well as professionals from MyKindaFuture. This partnership will see National Grid delivering a new online challenge that tasks students with designing a radio ad in order to encourage a new generation to join the Net Zero Energy Workforce. This will give students skills in broadcasting and production whilst also raising the profile of the work they’ve been doing with MyKindaFuture. This will sit alongside attraction webinars, virtual workshops and digital mentoring schemes designed to develop employability skills and encourage careers in STEM.

Gareth Burden, National Grid Project Director for LPT2 commented: “This is an amazing opportunity to empower pupils and give them the skills and information they need to pursue STEM subjects and careers in our industry. Thanks to our programme with MyKindaFuture we will help create a pipeline of talent for the hundreds of thousands of jobs we need to fill across the energy industry in order to meet our net zero targets by 2050. We’re rolling out one of the most challenging and interesting engineering projects in South London, giving us the perfect opportunity to enthuse and engage young Londoners. And importantly our project will look to significantly improve the career prospects of thousands of young people from some of London’s most disadvantaged areas”.

Will Akerman, Founder and Managing Director at MyKindaFuture, said: “We are thrilled to be partnering with National Grid on such an exciting and important project. We are passionate about providing young people with the opportunities that they deserve to succeed in life and are confident that the scheme will prove invaluable for disadvantaged pupils in the area, as well as positively impacting the UK STEM industry.”

Shevaun Haviland, Deputy Director of Business Partnerships in the Cabinet Office said: "The Inclusive Economy Partnership - convened by the Cabinet Office and DCMS - brings government, business and civil society together to tackle the UK’s most pressing social and economic problems through cross-sector partnerships - and this new programme really highlights the power of partnership. I am delighted that one of the IEP's front-line social innovators is now working with a key infrastructure provider to promote STEM careers to over 100,000 young, diverse students. Through this partnership, National Grid and MyKindaFuture are working to create the next generation of engineers, scientists and innovators. As National Grid’s research has shown, this is vital to achieving net zero by 2050."

Visit London Power Tunnels for project information:

Press contact: Helen Blake / 07790 824788