National Grid, one of the world’s largest energy companies, and Connectr, the UK’s leading underrepresented talent specialist, have unveiled a brand-new virtual work experience programme, available to Year 12 and 13 students in South London. The initiative forms part of National Grid’s London Power Tunnels Project school engagement programme, a STEM and careers-focussed programme to engage 100,000 young people over the next five years.
The week-long initiative, which runs from 5th – 9th July, will provide pupils with an unrivalled insight into the energy sector, an industry that needs to fill 400,000 roles by 2050 if the UK is to reach its net zero target. The programme will also inspire students from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in STEM, something which might have previously seemed unattainable to them.
Students in some of London’s most disadvantaged areas will be able to benefit from a mix of live sessions and learning materials, including digital mentors, live Q&As, recorded seminars, written modules and quizzes.
All students involved will have the chance to develop key employability skills and attributes needed for the workplace, such as CV writing and presentation skills, project management and top tips when working at home! Students will also have the chance to network with leading figures from within the industry at panel discussions, Q&As and as part of the digital mentoring programme.
Live sessions will focus on the steps National Grid are taking to contribute towards the UK Net Zero target. Students will hear from representatives involved in the electric vehicle roll out as well as the team responsible for National Grid’s Wind Turbine innovation. In addition, attendees will hear from a representative from HR, sharing the range of roles available at National Grid and the net-zero workforce. The workshops will be led by engineers from National Grid’s London Power Tunnels team project, including its construction partner HOCHTIEF Murphy, as well as professionals from Connectr, who specialise in supporting people from diverse backgrounds achieve their potential and feel like they belong in the workplace.
This unique opportunity is available to young people living in the seven boroughs of South London impacted by National Grid’s £1 billion London Power Tunnels project as a priority, as well as students across London and the wider UK, reaching young people in areas of low social mobility.
Will Akerman, Founder and Managing Director at Connectr, said:
“We are so pleased to be running this virtual work experience programme alongside the team at National Grid. Giving students from underrepresented areas who are interested in sustainability, the environment, renewable energy, STEM or project management, the opportunity to succeed in life is incredibly rewarding. Many of the people taking part in this programme will never have thought a career in STEM was feasible. Well, now it is!
“COVID-19 has caused uncertainty for everyone, but those from disadvantaged backgrounds have been the hardest hit, and it is time to give back to them. Gaps in social mobility have grown and school closures have led to far greater inequalities in accessing education resources than we have ever seen. By being virtual we are able to get to these underserved communities and help those that need it the most.”
According to The Office for National Statistics, the percentage of young people (aged 16 to 24 years) in the UK not in education, employment or training (NEET) by December 2020 was 11.6%. With disadvantaged students twice as likely to become NEET aged 18 than their peers, the programme will go some way towards tackling this inequality.
Gareth Burden, Project Director at National Grid commented:
“The past year has been really challenging for a number of young people who haven’t had access to the support or material they need to help inform their future studies and career paths. This is why our virtual work experience week is a great opportunity for some of these young people to learn more about National Grid, the energy industry and how we need their skills and passion to make net zero happen.
“Pupils will be able to meet and speak to a range of experts from our London Power Tunnels project and wider company and will be able to learn about potential job opportunities with us. The work experience week forms part of our wider outreach programme with secondary schools where we aim to work with 100,000 pupils over the next five years.”