Creative workshops at summer school encourage career choices

Zara Lamont (Carillion) with Gumball Challenge winners Aalliyah Reid, Chelsea Miller and Lauren Cawthorne and Jen Brownlee (Atkins)

Zara Lamont (Carillion) with Gumball Challenge winners Aalliyah Reid, Chelsea Miller and Lauren Cawthorne and Jen Brownlee (Atkins)

During two weeks in August girls who are starting in year 7 at St Paul’s School for Girls in Birmingham took part in a mix of creative workshops and trips to local attractions supported by Skills to Shine, a not-for-profit social enterprise which aims to raise children’s career aspirations.

The events helped them to imagine what the world might look like in the year 2060, with a particular focus on jobs and careers. The girls were challenged to create their own visions of 2060 – a year that will see them approaching retirement.

As part of the two-week summer school, 38 girls took part in a full day of science technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related activities in the school hall.

STEM ambassadors from the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) ran a ‘Gumball Challenge’ aimed at giving students a chance to find out what it’s like to be a real engineer by solving a problem using engineering principles and working as a team.

Ambassadors Liz Greasley, a quality engineer at MG Motors; Jen Brownlee, who works in business improvement at Atkins and Zara Lamont, performance improvement director at Carillion, all gave up their time to help the girls make a structure out of cardboard, to launch ping-pong; tennis and golf balls, in order to hit a target.

ICE West Midlands regional director, Malcolm Jackson said: “With fewer than 10 per cent currently in the profession ICE aspires to attract more women in to civil engineering. We appreciate the dedication of female role models who are willing to share their passion for their career and inspire the engineers of the future.

“We are particularly lucky to have highly experienced engineer, Zara Lamont, ICE vice-president, working in our region and willing to get involved in hands-on activities like this one.”

Judith Allen, St Paul’s deputy head said: “The theme of this year’s summer school at St Paul’s School for Girls was ‘looking to the future’ so we were delighted that Skills to Shine were able to include a selection of STEM activities.

“It is essential that we develop these skills in young people, especially girls, so that we can meet the skills demands of the future.

“We were particularly grateful for the input from the ICE which follows on from the fantastic bridge building workshop that they did for our year 9 girls earlier this year.

“Perhaps we’ll see quite a few girls consider civil engineering as a career in the future.

“We are also grateful to Rowena Fletcher-Wood for her work with the girls on the future of the fashion industry with regards to fabric dyes and their toxicity levels.”