Last week, 45 Manchester schoolchildren were welcomed into a programme aimed at tackling the ‘oily rags’ perception of engineering and opening their eyes to alternative routes to university.
The programme was developed following research which revealed that 70% of children and 33% of parents in Manchester don’t even know what apprenticeships are, never mind the opportunities they hold for fulfilling careers. This is compared to a national average of 68% of children and 36% of parents.
Run by leading facilities management services provider, ABM UK, the Junior Engineering Engagement Programme (J.E.E.P) kicked off at Manchester Health Academy, and Abraham Moss Community School in Manchester, following a successful pilot year with three schools in West London.
Supported by education delivery partner, The Transformation Trust, ABM UK will take the immersive programme to a total of nine schools across the UK including schools in London, Leeds, Manchester and Bradford. Running from March to July 2019, year two will see over 150 11 to 15-year-olds participate in the programme. The modules include engineering-based activities on topics such as electrics and cooling, with the theme of sustainability running throughout the course.
Rebecca Scully, Lead Practitioner in Maths at Manchester Health Academy commented on the first module: “We were delighted with how the first J.E.E.P module went! The session was incredibly well organized, and our students really responded well to the fantastic Transformation Trust facilitator who ran the activities.
“We saw a lot of students come out of their comfort zones and tackle the practical activities and experiments with confidence, learning a lot about themselves as well as STEM topics such as mould, ventilation, heating and conduction.”
Kieran Mullan, Subject leader for Design and Technology at Abraham Moss Community School also commented: “The first module of the J.E.E.P initiative has been eye opening for the students, who have been encouraged to think about their futures, the meaning of the word clever, and different pathways to success. Students were engaged throughout the session, and they particularly loved the practical and hands-on nature of the activities.
“This is a fantastic programme that touches on important issues of sustainability, the environment and public space, and we can’t wait for Module 2!”
ABM UK’s director, Adam Baker, says: “We’re delighted to be in a position where schools across the country are interested in the J.E.E.P initiative and to be working with triple the number of students in comparison to our pilot year. However, in order to change perceptions, we need to make the programme scalable. That’s why we will be making the programme available to teachers all over the country so they can implement it themselves, with our support.
“Research which we conducted last year brought to life just how big the perception problem is that our industry is facing; for example, we found that over a third of parents don’t know what an apprenticeship is and a further third see apprenticeships as a last resort for young people who fail exams.
“However, the J.E.E.P pilot proved that there is an appetite for programmes like this and that the young people involved are open to learning about new industries and alternative paths to success, other than just university.”
Cate Smith, Senior Programme Manager at the Transformation Trust says: “We were delighted when ABM UK approached us and asked for us to be a part of this programme. Being the first of its kind in the UK means we can hopefully pave the way for other initiatives like this, as the end goal for the FM industry is to close the skills gap.
“We believe initiatives like this are a great way to introduce students to a new interest through fun activities and experiments. It’s our job to deliver these modules in an engaging way to ensure the students leave excited about their potential future in FM!”
In year one, ABM UK collaborated with generous suppliers and clients who see the value in taking action. These included Helistrat, SMI – Workwear, Trinity Fire & Security, Edmundson Electrical, Diversey and Westbury Group. ABM UK will be looking for further support from industry peers as the programme goes from strength to strength.
For more information on the programme, visit www.jeep-abm.org.