Jul 28, 2022
Launched in October 2020, The Tomorrow’s Engineers Code brings employers together to increase the diversity and number of young people entering engineering careers.
Two Signatories, SSE plc and Wessex Water, collaborated together in an online conversation, Becca Thurston, Early Career Manager from Wessex Water wanted advice to create an outreach strategy and collaborated with Sam Greer, Education and Employability Manager at SSE to hear about her experiences of implementing a new outreach strategy, using The Code as the framework.
SSE signed The Code in November 2020 and used the 4 pledges of The Code - improving impact, driving inclusion, inspiring connection and showcasing engineering - to underpin their engineering outreach strategy and Wessex Water wanted to better understand this process.
This is what they said about using The Code has a framework for their outreach strategy
Sam (SSE) said
“For me, The Code has been an exceptional reference point and whilst it has formed our strategy, it continues to influence the work we are doing.”
Becca (Wessex Water) said
“Wessex Water are now Signatories of The Code. Sam's insight into how she used the pledges to underpin the outreach strategy at SSE helped us to recognise the value of using the code to structure our approach to delivery."
Here’s just some of the key topics that were covered and how Sam linked them to the 4 pledges of The Code.
Improving impact pledge
The Code helped Sam develop a long-term outreach strategy with demonstrable benefits across the business. Sam drew on a range of the free resources on Tomorrow’s Engineers which have supported the work SSE is doing to benchmark, monitor and measure the impact of their work.
Driving inclusion pledge
Sam worked with charities and other organisations to reach a more diverse group of young people, also delivering programmes digitally and on-demand helped.
Inspiring connection pledge
Sam collaborates with supply chains, their communities, and other organisations to help build workforce shortage skills.
Showcasing engineering pledge
Find out how Sam built an effective STEM volunteer programme, built content and activities, worked with subject matter experts across the business to address workforce skills shortages, the benefits of delivering digitally during the pandemic and how having a range of different content helps reach a more diverse group of young people.
Underpin a long term and sustainable outreach strategy
"The Code definitely came along at the right time for me. I was able to utilise the pledges to underpin the new STEM strategy, aligning all outreach activity to the needs of our business in our drive to establish a long term, sustainable approach to delivery."
“I am constantly promoting on LinkedIn the great work our STEM volunteers and ambassadors do. The more I promote the work they are doing, the more it encourages other people to come on board, either within our business areas, within our sector, or within our supply chain.”
Using the resources on the Tomorrow’s Engineers website
“SSE have been doing great stuff for years, but not capturing it, not recording, or evaluating, or checking the activities aligned to our business needs. Since putting the SSE outreach strategy together there have been some useful tools from the Tomorrow’s Engineers website that have helped me including the Impact Framework and the Measures Bank “ these have been invaluable to us.”
Quick wins to capture information to measure impact
“One of the first steps I took was to work with our early careers team to implement the use of a tick box on our application forms to identify if candidates have previously participated in any outreach engagement with us.”
“If SSE have a one-to-one virtual interaction, we now provide participants with a link to feedback form to complete. I make a point during sessions and through the chat function as a reminder to complete the forms.”
The challenge of capturing outcomes
“Capturing outcomes is challenging. The first stat pack we have ever put together was at the end of the first year of implementing our strategy, when weren’t doing terribly much. We had also had lockdown, but I thought it was important that SSE demonstrated what we had achieved.”
“I then looked at producing a stat pack per business unit which will become more important for us to enable business units to benchmark themselves against others in the group. This will help me because it will encourage them to get more engaged Going forward, I will move to half-yearly reporting in line with our group reporting.”
Countering digital poverty
“SSE worked with Barnardo’s Works to provide laptops to young people, counter digital poverty and take part in our virtual work experience programme. Schools streamed the programme into classrooms, and this is another way to overcome the issue. Also, working with Speakers for Schools and the Sutton Trust who have various programmes that address social mobility.”
Targeting schools for your STEM outreach that meet Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion criteria
“SSE use CEC (Careers & Enterprise Company), DYF (Developing the Young Workforce) and Teach First to introduce us to schools. After the introductions I visit the schools to talk through our strategy.”
Supporting supply chains and their communities
“SSE actively support their supply chain networks in areas where we only project manage, supporting them to provide apprenticeships and work experience.”
“As well as our supply chain networks SSE also work with the CEC (Careers & Enterprise Company) in England and DYW (Developing the Young Workforce) in Scotland and several other partners, supporting communities, building skills and inspiring younger generations.”
Aligning outreach to the curriculum
“SSE used a partner to create the curriculum piece for us and we developed our own content, utilising their structure and have looked at Skills Builder, which has a framework to help measure the impact on the development of transferable skills for young people across the UK, because SSE are not just in England we are also in Wales, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and Scotland so aligning with curriculum is quite challenging.”
Implementing an effective STEM volunteers’ programme
“Once schools have agreed they’d like to work with us, based on our strategic approach, I recruit internally a STEM lead who is the front face of that local relationship. The STEM lead will be experienced in SSE and understand future needs, not just their own business area. They also understand the local job market, the economic clusters and types of sectors that work in that business and it also helps me. We are a small team of me and a coordinator running the whole programme for the group and the reality is that we have to have that local contact.”
“The local STEM lead works with a school, to understand the school’s needs and will consult with me on the art of the possible and very often that is about managing expectations. Schools can get excited about the partnership, and we normally suggest activities and ask them to start with one curriculum area and build up and not over promise, so one activity per term to start off with, a handful of mock interviews and a couple of graduates going into an assembly and doing an inspirational talk.”
Creating content and activities for STEM outreach
“We are building content all the time to build the relevant skills in our pipeline/workforce, supply chains, communities but also in our own workforce. Managers can get really valuable experience through mock interviews, coaching and mentoring. Engineers, who are not necessarily natural communicators can be pushed out of their comfort zone when they are put in front of a harsh young audience and they really must put energy and passion out there, speak in plain language and it can be particularly good for their own development. Also, as a business, SSE encourage all engineers to go on their chartership journey and their STEM involvement is an important part of that journey.”
“SSE work with subject matter experts across all our businesses to produce blended materials covering various aspects of all our businesses, for example, distributed energy businesses are all involved in electric vehicles, storm response spans a couple of our businesses, sustainability spans all our businesses and trying to get content that was aligned to our business needs as well as the needs of the schools and being age appropriate is a challenge. SSE also have a training video for our STEM volunteers, a slide deck that is personalised by whoever is delivering it, there are handouts and videos embedded into the slides and activities. These are around 90-minute sessions that can be adapted depending on the time available, it is not 90 minutes of somebody speaking and has elements as close to real-life work examples as we can make it, including industrial challenges, or projects.”
Positive aspects from a global pandemic
“When nobody was in school SSE pre-recorded activities and having different learning tools to support different learning styles makes it easier for teachers to pause content to go through it again and explain it where necessary. This means we have an entire range of ways of putting our message across.”
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