Working with Welshpool Youngsters on STEM Success

Nearly 700 young people from Welshpool took part in a series of workshops to support STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) last week. The sessions had been arranged by Mid Wales Manufacturing Group to support the Futureproofing Engineering Skills Provision in Powys Project which is supported by Powys County Council.  The aim of this project is to ensure the future growth and development of the manufacturing and engineering sector in Powys by helping to address the skills and training barriers being faced by the industry.

Manufacturing & Engineering in Powys employs over 5000 people, by employee numbers and the industry is facing a skills shortage.

The week began with Year 7,8 & 9 Pupils from Welshpool High School taking part in activities including the Lego Mindstorm The EV3 experience which enables pupils to programme and command LEGO robots.  Using the Knex building system students design and build racing cars. Then using compressed air pumps these are fired along a track and using appropriate key stage mathematics to analyse performance.

The GENIE workshop provided an introduction to electronics and programming, participants constructed a set LED traffic lights and then used flowchart software to control them.

The CITB also provided the ICE Bridge to Schools and a number of volunteers to assist with the week long activities.  Emrys Roberts, CITB Advisor Wales said “The ICE Bridge gives young people the chance to build a miniature version of the Second Severn Crossing.  Using our model cable-stayed bridges, children experience bridge building at first-hand, while wearing hard hats, high-vis vests, gloves and goggles.  After the bridges have been built, each child gets the chance to walk across and test their engineering skills.”

In the later part of the week younger pupils in years 5 & 6 from Primary Schools around Welshpool including, Buttington Trewern, Arddleen, Forden, Guilsfield, Leighton, Berriew & Montgomery descended on the Welshpool Livestock Market to take part in the activities.

Engaging young people at an early age and providing an insight into the industry locally and the opportunities is vital to addressing the skills needs of local engineering and manufacturing companies.
— Cllr Martin Weale, Powys County Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Planning
Our thanks go to all the volunteers and helpers from Upscience, Myrick Training and the CITB who all came together to ensure that young people in the region were able to take part in this day and gain a greater understanding of the opportunities that are available to them locally in industry.
— Ceri Stephens Group Manager for Mid Wales Manufacturing Group

The feedback for the event has been extremely positive and we hope to be able to run further session in the future, for any young person who would like more of an insight into the manufacturing & engineering industry we will be holding a factory visit at Dawson Shanahan aimed at young people and their parents/ carers on Thursday 22nd March, families can call on between 4pm – 6pm and view the facilities and types of job roles available and talk to existing apprentices about the work they are undertaking, anyone wanting to come along can book online at our website or call 01686 628778 to reserve their place

Ceri Stephens