Updated: Oct 27, 2020
Dear sponsors, teachers, students and friends,
I hope you are all keeping well and safe in this very changing environment in which we live. It has been a significant transformational year for us, alongside the whole charity sector, education and commercial businesses due to COVID-19.
The need to act is strong
The educational inequalities young people face this year, dependent on their socio-economic background, has had an impact on both their learning and potential longer term employment and earnings. We have sadly heard stories where 60% of students from some schools have not completed any set work at home during lockdown, and now face the need to reconnect with their education and school.
It is predicted that COVID-19 will have greatest impact on the 16-24 age group, and with the widening social divide the need for us all to fulfil our social obligation to young people is strong.
Our aim is to support these young people back into education. We want to enable them to believe there are opportunities available to them and they can transform this situation into a positive one for themselves.
Turning the effects on business of COVID-19 into opportunity to change
During the summer, we at EDT consulted with young people, schools and industry partners on how updates to our activities (virtual or otherwise) could better meet their immediate & longer-term needs. The resulting strategy was to reinvent and simplify our previous suite of programmes into fully accredited and curriculum-aligned Industrial Cadets programmes; offering a continuum of support from Challenger to Platinum level.
Despite the STEM sector facing significant challenges, we were pleased to feel a great sense of passion from our industry partners to continue to drive necessary change, ensuring we have a diverse pipeline for our future sectors’ growth.
We listened and acted upon outcomes from all the focus groups and believe therefore we are in a good place for the academic year ahead, and beyond. The digital transformation of our charity, and our speed of delivery, has amazed our board over the last few months.
We recent created our new mission statement "Connecting young people and industry with inspiring STEM futures" in congruence with our overall vision because our collective aim is to make STEM careers accessible to all young people regardless of background, gender or ethnicity.
Prudent Financial Management
We have managed our cost base through these last 6 months with careful control, alongside rebuilding our approach and content to be relevant for the new world we work in. I, and our stakeholders believe our purpose is now even greater with the social divide growing further and an increasing need to re-engage young people and encourage them towards a STEM career and a bright future.
Taking our activities online
Through our digital transformation, we have considered how we can build our programmes in an online environment, ensuring safety for all our students, whilst also looking at how we can improve our offers previously delivered face to face. I am immensely proud of the way the EDT team have reacted to this significant challenge.
An example of this; our popular Headstart and Inspire University taster courses (normally a face to face course taking place in the summer) were converted into virtual experiences accessible throughout the summer of 2020. Whilst it wasn’t possible to deliver as we would normally, we worked closely and creatively with our university and industry partners and found new ways of adding additional value;
Students were given access to content from other Universities and online lectures as well as the course they had signed up for
Students received access to employer-designed content developed by industry partners working closely with our project team
The “Meet the Mentor” industry panels created fantastic insight and debate for young people and added huge value to the experience
Students still have the opportunity to gain an Industrial Cadets awards as a result of completing their experience and had the summer to complete, rather than all in one week
We offered over 20,000 hours of online STEM learning for 16 and 17 year olds across the UK during the summer. We ran 68 different live sessions in total!
Here is some feedback from our students;
“The ability to research and learn new subjects and content that I wouldn't have previously been taught or researched myself. Pushing me and challenging me to undertake projects and learning from real life employers that I wouldn't experience in school.”
“This course has made it very easy and accessible to learn about STEM careers from home.”
“Learning more about the STEM Industry itself, the larger companies which I had never heard about prior now seem like potential career opportunities.”
Virtual “Themed” experiences and projects to be launched throughout the year
Throughout the year, we will be launching activities aligned to the current environment, using simplified messaging and a focus around themes that matter to young people and our sponsors alike. Current themes include environmental sustainability, climate change, circular economy, cyber security, artificial intelligence and health– subjects that will excite young people and are in areas of growth for successful careers.
Next month, we are launching our Industrial Cadets Gold Level Project for 16 – 17 year olds, adjusted to deliver more impact to young people, delivering real life, industry relevant projects with interactive sessions where students meet a range of businesses, in addition to the company that will mentor and support them over the project duration, benefitting all involved.
Watch this space for more announcements!
As always, my thanks go to all of those who have helped us over the last few months providing invaluable input and insight to help guide our transformation, and I know who will continue to work in partnership with us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.