The Nissan Motor Corporation Skills Foundation, created to raise the aspirations of local school children and young people, has recently been awarded Highly Commended at the National STEM Inspiration Awards.
The STEM Ambassador Hub North East has worked closely with the Nissan Skills Foundation to raise interest amongst youngsters in STEM (science, technology, engineering, ,mathematics) subjects, raise awareness of opportunities for training and career in the Manufacturing and Engineering sector as well as to address common perceptions that social issues, economic background, and gender are not barriers to landing a job in the sector.
We caught up with Ian Green, Senior Controller and Section Manager at the Nissan Skills Foundation, who is also involved with the STEM Ambassador Hub North East, to understand how being a STEM Ambassador contributes to the overall cause of inspiring more children into a career in STEM, and also to find out what his vision is for STEM education in the region and what success looks like.
Q1:Nissan Motor Corporation has been recognised nationally and highly commended by STEM Learning for the work that you do with schools. Can you tell us a bit about the work that you do? What does this recognition mean to you?
We started the activities as a pilot at the end of the academic year 2012, although we are trying to get young people to think about apprenticeship’s and graduate entry to the industry, we realised that 16 was too late to engage. We put in place initiatives which engage with young people in option year (9) and to get them excited about STEM before they start secondary school in Year 5/6 of Primary. In the first pilots we worked with 4 schools and 165 young people but by October 2014 it had grown so much we created the Nissan Skills Foundation and each year we have added in new programmes that we support, currently we are working with 170+ schools and 10500 young people per year. I think it’s important for people to see that large employers are taking the STEM challenge seriously and as the largest private employer in the region, we have a huge influence over a wide supplier base.
Q2: In your opinion how can collaboration with the STEM Ambassador programme support your own personal and your organisation’s plans to raise the profile of STEM education in the region?
Having the external validation and recognition helps when we are working with new schools and being able to work with other people who have a real passion for STEM and connections into both the regional and national network
Q3: How long have you been a STEM Ambassador for?
I only joined the program 18 months ago, after meeting with the RTC North and since then have made the ambassador registration a part of our apprentice and graduate schemes to encourage more young people to get involved.
Q4: What motivates you to be a STEM Ambassador? Why is it important to you?
I am very passionate about giving young people the opportunity to join the manufacturing and engineering world and to show that social issues, economic background and gender are not barriers to entry and to also highlight it is possible to have a career within this sector and not just a job.
Q5: What STEM Ambassador activities have you performed so far and how are the kids finding them?
The majority of the activities I do are aimed at the management of what we deliver so I am often working with head teachers and other industry professionals to encourage them to engage. Our programs have been phenomenally well received and the growth of the initiative is down to the quality of what we are delivering and the team of people who I have working for me on the sessions.
Q6: Would you encourage more industry professionals to become Ambassadors, if so why?
I am very active both regionally and nationally (North East Automotive alliance skills group, automotive trailblazer group, and Automotive Council Skills group) in the skills agenda and this is something I actively encourage others to get involved with
Q7: What is your vision for STEM education in the region and what does success look like in terms of firmly establishing the STEM agenda in the North East in your opinion?
I am actively working with five of our key suppliers to draw them into what we are doing with engaging with schools, they don’t have the resource or access to schools that we have so using our influence to get them as involved as we possibly can.