What it means to be a STEM Ambassador

As it was quite rightly phrased by a Curtins employee in another blog post, “Investment in young people and development of their talent is part of Curtins’ DNA”. However, as working professionals it is all too easy to focus all our efforts on developing our graduates and new employees. We often forget that graduation is not where our career begins. It’s the day we choose our A-level subjects. It’s the school careers fair when we spoke with a working professional who inspired us to consider an engineering career. It’s the teacher who took time to explain what a civil engineer does. It could even be the primary school teacher who improved our maths grades and opened up a whole new raft of future career opportunities. In short, our careers have effectively begun long before the graduation ceremonies. They begin at school.

So, why do we need to assist schools and colleges with their careers advice?

Firstly, schools want the help. A report published earlier this year showed that 35% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subject teachers feel confident in giving careers advice. The reality is that working professionals are the only people able to bridge this educational gap, providing up-to-date, relevant and non-stereotypical advice to inspire future engineers.

Secondly, our future industry needs the help. The aforementioned report also concludes that annually we fall short by 20,000 engineering graduates in order to meet current and future industry demand. Other studies have reached similar conclusions, and it undoubtedly raises questions over the state of our future industry. Put simplistically: we need more engineers!

Why become a STEM Ambassador?

I officially became a STEM Ambassador at the start of the summer in 2015 and, like many STEM Ambassadors, I had already been involved in various capacities in assisting schools with careers assistance. I decided to formally register for the following reasons:

• The local STEM Ambassador Hub provides regular communications and updates with a wide range of opportunities available around your local area. This can include giving talks on careers in civil engineering; attending careers fairs; conducting mock interviews and assisting with school STEM clubs and classroom activities.

• You are required to take part in just one activity per year to maintain your STEM Ambassador registration.

• Registering as an official STEM Ambassador provides training and insurance, providing added protection in the event of any accidents or incidents on your way to, during and from an organised event.

• The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) runs an accompanying ‘ICE Ambassadors’ scheme, giving you the opportunity to represent the institution at a wide variety of school careers events. This will contribute towards demonstrating attribute 9C and 9D of the current ICE member attributes, as well as helping you to improve communication skills (covered under attribute 8).

I sincerely hope that there are other Curtins employees (or any other industry professionals) reading this blog who may now decide to ‘take the plunge’ and become a STEM Ambassador. You won’t regret it!

More information on becoming a STEM Ambassador can be found via www.stem.org.uk