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Thames Valley: Tech companies line up to deliver STEM initiative

By Dan Teuton
18 October 2019

Leading technology companies including Softcat, Gamma, the Rosalind Franklin Institute and Westcoast, are partnering with Education Business Partnership (EBP) to deliver a new initiative, Hi-Tech Horizons. The programme will reach and directly engage with 50,000 secondary school/college students over the next five years.

EBP has designed Hi-Tech Horizons to help address the skills shortages which are impacting economic growth. With around 120,000 Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths (STEAM) jobs in Berkshire alone, nearly twice the national average, the need for the initiative in the region is clear.

Launching in schools this autumn, EBP will be bringing hi-tech businesses into schools, at critical times, to showcase careers that students might not have considered or even know exist.

Alex Tatham, managing director at Westcoast and a Hi-Tech Horizons ambassador, outlined his reasons for getting involved: “As the winds of change sweep across our whole country, and the availability of talent from abroad may be restricted; let’s not sit idly by and bemoan the lack of enthusiastic youngsters applying to our companies, which are the best in the world, and where Britain needs to excel and had every opportunity to do so – let’s do something about it.”

The programme not only supports hi-tech businesses by helping them raise awareness of their sector and the opportunities within it in a way that is understandable to young people, but it also influences young people’s career choices and helps them develop important, relevant work-related skills.

Gamma tell us why they’ve got involved: “We partnered up with EBP to help inspire our next generation into Hi-Tech careers. The skills and strengths that young people possess are extremely well placed to have a dramatic and positive impact on the Skills Shortage. It’s vital that we tap into those skills from a young age to show young people just how well they are suited for this sector.”

The Rosalind Franklin Institute added: “Here at the Rosalind Franklin Institute we are delighted that our involvement in EBP’s Hi-Tech Horizons programme will enable us to reach 10,000 young people a year and demonstrate that roles in hi-tech are the future. By engaging directly with students and showcasing our work we will be able to increase their understanding of human health and disease, showcase the impact they could have by joining the sector and become part of making a real, tangible difference.

Michelle Smith, chief executive officer at EBP, said: “We created this programme to meet the needs of Thames Valley hi-tech companies and to inspire young people, by showing them what working in this leading-edge sector is like and to showcase the array of opportunities available on their doorsteps.

“Technology is everywhere, and it will continue to enhance and deliver change within a vast number of sectors and businesses. Our future workforce has the skills and strengths to mean that they are perfectly placed for careers in hi-tech organisations, if they know about it. So, we created Hi-Tech Horizons to engage young people with professionals from the hi-tech arena to bring this to life for our future workforce.

“We are excited to see the programme launch and would like to say a big thank you to the businesses who we have partnered up with us on it and to Greenham Common Trust and Reading UK who have also helped fund the programme.”

Nigel Horton-Baker, executive director, Reading UK, added: “We are delighted to be part of this amazing initiative. Reading UK exists to boost business and improve the quality of life for all in our region and what better way to help do this then inspire our future workforce into career pathways that are high in abundance within the Thames Valley?

“It’s vital that we create opportunities for all and remove any barriers to growth in Reading and helping close the Skills Gap will help do just that. We can’t wait to see this programme progress and see the tangible difference it will make in the years to come.”

If your business would like to get involved in Hi-Tech Horizons, email [email protected]