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Inspiring the next generation of engineers

Author: Luke Richardson , Community Relations Officer

19 March 2015

The UK has had concerns over the science and engineering disciplines for nearly 200 years. In fact, a report by Charles Babbage, the Decline of Science in England in 1830 raised serious concerns over the UK’s future as a leader in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) markets; with focus at the time on manufacturing. In recent years, the UK has placed greater focus on the declining interest in STEM subjects and there are concerns over the decline in Engineers given the huge investment that will be made in future Infrastructure projects required to meet National needs. In fact the UK is estimated to face a shortfall of 81,000 people with engineering skills each year alone. To put that into perspective that means we need double the number of people studying Engineering in the UK.

Through our Costain Cares strategy we are actively involved in raising awareness of STEM careers and encouraging young people into the sectors in which we work. A couple of examples include our Apprenticeship Academy, Graduate Programme and the Big Skills Conversation which we organised in partnership with Business in the Community (BITC). As a business we are committed to BITC’s aim of supporting young people to gain a foothold in the construction and engineering industry.

Whilst we have a number of programmes at Group level we also challenge our projects to get involved in local initiatives, a great example of is the Centre for Leadership (CforLP) Dream Placement Scheme in Cumbria. CforLP organise a unique placement scheme which offers a selection of local young people the chance to work at the highest level of local and national companies who work within Cumbria. Alongside 39 other companies we took part in the programme. Ellie who is 17 joined Costain for a week (16th – 20th Feb). Ellie spent half her week alongside our project delivery team at Sellafield and then the other half of the week at our office in Manchester. She worked across nearly every discipline to gain an insight into Costain and the wider industry.

Ellie said “When you think of work experience, you’ll probably be stereo typical and imagine a student running back and forth between the photocopier and the kettle making tea for everyone in sight but that’s not the case at Costain and certainly not as part of the Dream Placement. The Scheme offers the opportunity for Post-16 students in Cumbria to undertake a week’s placement with one of 39 companies in which they can gain an insight into the various leadership roles.

“The scheme hopes to raise aspirations in Cumbria and provide an environment where young people can thrive with the drive and ambition to push themselves to the top.

“I was thrilled to be awarded a placement with Costain, which has proven to be an extremely insightful week. I have always had the intention to pursue maths and science but was unsure on the career path to take. This placement has helped me to decide on a career in chemical engineering after meeting with the process team and exploring the various job roles available.”

Ellie is preparing to head to University and in discussions with the business about applying for our Graduate Programme and the business is now looking at taking part in next year’s Dream Placement. The results of the scheme speak for themselves and I would actively challenge any company in Cumbria to take part. If you care about the skills issues facing the UK and have the resources to support the scheme then it’s a no brainer!