Groups of young people from all over Britain came together last week, to test their STEM skills in real life engineering situations in a pioneering programme.
The two-day virtual event encouraged pupils from diverse backgrounds to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in this first programme run by National Grid’s gas transmission business together with Generating Genius.
The students were inspired through interactive workshops, digital mentoring programmes and the chance to solve some of the emerging issues affecting the gas industry.
Anjola Animashaun, one of the students who took part, said: “I really enjoyed the experience, being part of a team who have different skillsets to me and learning about National Grid’s involvement in the energy industry. It’s made me realise I want to find out more and play my part in making a difference to achieve net zero.”
Ten more events are planned to run throughout the year for around 60 university-aged students, alongside 120 students currently having one-to-one mentoring with our colleagues.
Students were tasked with presenting a new technology to help drive the shift to a clean energy future. They were judged against a range of criteria, which included their understanding of the challenges facing the energy industry, the gas network and the UK’s net zero ambition, and the potential of hydrogen to heat our homes.
According to our recent research, the UK needs to fill 400,000 roles between now and 2050 to meet net zero targets. This innovative programme supports this target, while at the same time giving students from some of Britain’s most disadvantaged areas greater opportunities to learn about the energy industry – and the range of careers they could pursue, even during the pandemic.
The first two-day programme was offered to 40 students aged 16 to 18, 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 programme is part of our wider efforts to engage with young talent and raise awareness and understanding of STEM careers. This includes our partnership with talent specialists MyKindaFuture, which aims to reach 100,000 diverse and under-represented young people across South London over five years; developing their employability skills and encouraging them to consider STEM careers. And the recently launched Grid for Good programme has been established to provide disadvantaged young people with access to training and employment opportunities across the energy sector.
Imran Abdulla, System Analyst for National Grid Gas Transmission, said: “The group was asked to pitch an idea to help decarbonise National Grid’s gas transmission business and enable a net zero future. Over the two days, the group produced some incredible plans.
“We had a range of ideas, from capturing carbon for hydrogen production to using AI, to better forecast the rapidly changing energy landscape.
“The group’s ability to deeply understand National Grid’s activities and the future trends of society, and then to translate this into solutions, really impressed us. Their energy and enthusiasm throughout the two days was inspirational and left a real mark on all the National Grid volunteers who supported the event.”
Dina Potter, Global Head of Social Impact at National Grid and who leads the Grid for Good programme, 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.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and its significant impact on schools has meant that underrepresented students need career 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.
“We hope this programme has encouraged the young people taking part to realise they have the skills, drive and determination to help meet net zero.”