17 female year 10 pupils from Swindon Academy School got a special visit to Beckton Dickinson, one of Swindon’s largest medical device manufacturers and met inspiring women working in science and engineering.
The partnership between Swindon Academy and Beckton Dickinson is an example of an initiative called the ‘Enterprise Adviser Network' run by the Swindon and Wiltshire Careers Hub, a partnership between the Careers and Enterprise Company, Swindon and Wiltshire LEP, Swindon Borough Council and Wiltshire Council. The Careers Hub recruits leaders in business and matches them with a local school or college to provide a long-term relationship between education and the world of business. These Enterprise Advisers (EAs) then work alongside the school to develop everything from pupils' interview skills to experience days.
For Swindon Academy, the partnership is fostered between the Careers Officer Jessica Cook and Helen Hewlett, HR Manager for Beckton Dickinson.
Jessica said: “Having Helen means we’ve got someone who we can go to for advice on how we should steer our careers programme so it is best for employers as well as the young people that we are supporting."
“It’s been really important today that the pupils have been led in each activity by female leaders. What it means is they can see female role models, within science and within tech. Just to have a role model that’s female and that’s working within a STEM subject is really important and really inspirational for young girls aspiring to work in these industries."
Helen Hewlett has been the EA for Beckton Dickinson for 18 months and has built the relationship with the school.
She said: “What we are doing with these students is giving them the full experience of different areas within our business. They are seeing engineering services, microbiology and also going into production. It’s a really rewarding experience seeing students get excited about our business.
The Enterprise Advisor network is run by Auriel Chandarana at Swindon Borough Council.
"It’s important for pupils to understand what employers need but at the same time develop their skills and let them learn and understand the journey of what they would like to do in the future,” explained Auriel.
In Swindon there are now 21 Enterprise Advisors working with 23 schools and colleges in the area. Ideally each school or college will have two EAs that help each school build better links with business.
Chair of Switch on to Swindon Jenny Groves added: “The scheme is a fantastic example of how schools can not only help inspire young people into working in Swindon based businesses but that business can think about how it can attract future pupils to work for them. Switch on to Swindon fully supports the EA programme and I hope more businesses get involved in it.”