“Our approach to education, apprenticeships and skills training guarantees our future talent pipeline and is crucial to our business’ future. Without a highly skilled workforce we simply can’t meet our customer and programme requirements”. That was the recent headline message delivered by Nigel Whitehead, BAE Systems Chief Technology Officer, in a keynote speech at the Worshipful Company of Educators/City & Guilds Group debate 2018 - ‘The Skills Challenges in the Real World’.
“Apprenticeships are crucial to underpinning future skills requirements and helping to meet scarce skills. But our work to attract young people into these apprenticeship opportunities has to start at an earlier stage, and that’s why we also invest heavily in our education strategy which aims to encourage young people to consider careers involving science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).”
As part of BAE Systems’ efforts to ensure STEM careers are considered and pursued by young people, over 250 recently joined the company at its sites across the UK to gain a glimpse of working life. ‘Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work’ Day is designed to offer young people an insight into the world of work and is a simple way of generating and encouraging interest in STEM careers.
Felicity Fashade blogs about her experience of hosting her 14-year-old niece at BAE Systems’ Naval Ships Combat Systems offices in Frimley, Surrey, where she works as a Programme Manager on a future concepts development programme.
Take your sons and daughters to work day at our Land UK business in Telford, Shopshire
Take your sons and daughters to work day 2018
I really wanted to make the day an exceptional and memorable experience for my niece so that she might seriously consider a future career in STEM. She shadowed me all day through a packed schedule of meetings and demonstrations and made some great contributions that our team hadn’t considered! She was given talks from graduates and apprentices and had informal discussions with a wide variety of employees, including the Deputy Engineering Director of Combat Systems. She spent her afternoon in group exercises where she honed in on fundamental skills such as problem solving and team work.
The day struck me as a great initiative to take part in; when I was growing up and considering career options, it was so hard to gain insight into options within STEM and what STEM professionals do. I remember that when opportunities arose, I found that often I was the only young female in the group of people interested, which was usually pretty intimidating. Nonetheless, this didn’t dampen my determination to pursue a career in STEM.
Having worked in multi-disciplined teams across different sectors of the engineering industry for over 20 years, I have never had a dull moment. Every role I have undertaken in my career – from being a Guidance and Control Engineer to Head of Engineering Performance – has been meaningful and rewarding.
I have been, and continue to be, inspired by all the engineers I have worked with. Their immense talent and enthusiasm for their chosen fields has kept me going every day. I am always excited to see the new programmes we are working on, including the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers and Type 26 frigates, and to witness how a team of engineers coming together can achieve great things for customers in the Royal Navy and other armed forces, here in the UK and overseas.
My experiences and roles so far in engineering have confirmed to me that there are a wealth of opportunities at BAE Systems; it was great to be able to show my niece just a few of the activities that you can be involved in when you work in STEM.
Promoting more widely engineering and other STEM industries as a career of choice for young females can be challenging at times but things are changing and there’s a real focus on making sure the industry attracts a diverse future workforce. BAE Systems invests greatly in education outreach and providing opportunities like work experience, our schools roadshow and other taster events like Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work.
Similarly, organisations such as Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) and many universities such as Brunel University put together excellent programmes to develop young female scientists and engineers, and equip them to excel in their STEM careers. I am confident that we will soon have a more gender balanced workforce in the UK’s engineering sector.
Encouragingly, my niece told me on our way home, “I thought it would be very difficult to work with boys, but actually it was fine and I had great fun,” which is exactly why it is great to take part in the ‘Take your Sons or Daughters to Work Day' initiative and open young people’s eyes to the world of working in STEM.
Take your sons and daughters to work day at our Air business in Warton, Lancashire