National Grid volunteer talking to school pupils

Inspiring young people into careers with energy

With a backdrop of the pandemic and the UK’s net zero ambitions, inspiring young people to work in the energy sector is more important than ever. So, we’re embarking on an innovative programme to provide STEM careers training to over 100,000 school pupils.

The pandemic has brought new worries about young people’s future job prospects and has heightened concerns about the disadvantage gap. This coincides with the need to recruit diverse talent into the energy industry, as we work towards the UK’s target of reaching net zero by 2050.

With this in mind, our London Power Tunnels team is launching an initiative to inspire over 100,000 school pupils into careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and specifically within the energy sector.

Helping to address inequalities

COVID-19’s impact on schools has meant that disadvantaged students need careers support more than ever – the virus has caused gaps in social mobility to widen and school closures have led to greater inequalities in accessing education.

During 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, according to The Sutton Trust. Research also suggests that disadvantaged students are twice as likely to not be in education, employment or training at age 18 than their more affluent peers.

Encouraging a new generation into STEM

The programme, set up in partnership with Mykindafuture, will provide over 100,000 pupils with STEM training and careers inspiration over the next five years. We already support communities across many areas of the UK and US that we work in, but this scheme will specifically reach out to young people living in the seven boroughs of South London that are impacted by our £1 billion London Power Tunnels (LPT) project to rewire the capital.

It will be offered to students in years 10 to 13 and involves a more imaginative approach than traditional talks and seminars; with the focus being very much on exciting pupils from diverse backgrounds via interactive workshops, creating a radio advert, form time and assembly takeovers, as well as digital mentoring programmes. In light of the pandemic, this will be largely virtual for the rest of 2020, with flexibility for a switch to face-to-face meetings when circumstances allow.

Boosting awareness of the ‘Net Zero Energy Workforce’

According to our Net Zero Energy Workforce research, the energy sector needs to fill 400,000 roles between now and 2050 if the UK is to meet its net zero emissions target. The new programme will help support this and, at the same time, gives 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.

Gareth Burden, Project Director for London Power Tunnels, said: “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. It will help to 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. The project will look to significantly improve the career prospects of thousands of young people from some of London’s most disadvantaged areas”.