Friday, 2 March 2018

#STEMspiration for all of us


We’re in March and the chances are that you’ve broken your resolutions already, as have I, my landlady, my boss and my cat. The number one New Year’s resolution according to Statista is to eat healthier, followed by getting more exercise, with spending less and saving more coming in at 3rd.

But what about if we tried a resolution that was a bit different? We’re all for kicking off a new trend. This includes not beating ourselves up about the fact we picked up a chocolate bar on January 3rd – let’s face it, it’s too cold to diet – and starting again when we’re feeling more inspired. Let’s call it the #resolutionrevamp.

But more than this, we think it’s about time we all took a leaf out of Ann Makosinki’s book. Who you may ask? Well this bright spark was just 15 when she invented the hollow flashlight. The idea came to her when a friend in the Phillipines explained she couldn’t do her homework due to no access to electricity. Her recommendation, directed at teens at the TEDxTeen conference was to “Pursue whatever you want to do…anything you dream of is possible but you have to start and work on it if it’s just 20 minutes a day.” Advice meant for adolescents or not, I think we could all apply this to our daily lives. Yes, twenty-first century life is busy but without time for creativity, innovation and learning, our world wouldn’t be anywhere near as technically advanced as it is now.

It’s imperative that the next generation get stuck in when it comes to STEM. Skills such as HTML coding, software engineering and robot programming are just some of the many sought after abilities that employees are already in need of, and the future seems set to develop this demand even further.

But what about the rest of us? An idea which is echoed by our blog in April 2015 “Corporate Creativity: The Must Have Of The Digital Age” is that you’re never too young to learn a new skill. Why not make your 2018 resolution to have mastered the art of website design using user-friendly platforms such as Wordpress? Or even better, try and invent something that will make waves in this digital era. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

The moment we’ve been waiting for – our zest for PR is celebrated at the Petroleum Economist Awards

Never in my three and a half years at Armitage Communications have I experienced such a build-up of emotions in such a short time. Over the last three weeks, there’s been an underlying tension building. Will we, won’t we? It’s been pushed back slightly from the forefront of our minds as our client’s projects maintained front and centre stage, but all along the suspense was rising in the background. We’d learned of our nomination for Energy Consultancy of the Year (PR).


At the beginning of the month an email was circulated telling us the good news – Armitage Communications had been nominated by the Petroleum Economist to be independently judged by a panel of industry experts. Completely anonymised, our approach to marketing digitalisation to the oil and gas sector would be evaluated by judges from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies (OIES). The people that really know their stuff when it comes to energy, oil and gas.

We knew it would be a challenge to impress the experts but something told us we were in with a decent chance. Our strong engineering roots and capacity for thorough research means that all of our campaigns are based on accurate and useful information which will genuinely benefit the sector, such as how to meet new safety regulations and lower production costs. We decided it was worth shouting about the nomination, taking time to create an e-signature which encouraged our clients and suppliers to begin to root for us too.


We spread our news on our social media pages as well, using gifs to illustrate both our enthusiasm…

 …and growing anxiety.

Before long the evening we’d all been waiting for had arrived. Suited and booted and glammed up to the nines, the Account Directors made the trip by taxi from our PR hub Mill House in Beddington, Croydon to One Great George Street in Westminster. Upon arrival the guests were treated to glasses of champagne before retiring to the Great Hall where a scrumptious feast of seared tuna with lime and ginger dressing, followed by braised lamb shank and a dessert of elderflower mousse, was served. Soft jazz music was performed on stage to quieten the nerves of the awaiting audience.

I waited restlessly at home for the news.

Around 9.45pm, Helen Robertson, Managing Editor for the Petroleum Economist took the stage to introduce the awards presenter of the night, Stephen Sackur. Presenter of HARDtalk on BBC World News, Stephen Sackur had just returned from Libya and cycled his way to the event in a black tie. “I am very committed to phasing out the combustion engine. Is that a terrible thing to say at a Petroleum Economist Awards Dinner?” he joked, breaking the ice.

As the awards began to be read out, the Account Directors were almost falling off the edge of their seats in anticipation. Ed couldn’t contain himself any longer and began eating all of the chocolate on the table to try and calm down.

My phone was silent for a few minutes as I stared at the blank screen.

Then the news broke…”Energy Consultancy of the Year (PR) goes to…Armitage Communications!” followed by loud applause and our exuberant team jumping up in excitement. David Armitage, Managing Director and Tim Haines, Account Director, took to the stage to receive the award – a proud moment for both men as they started the company together over thirty years ago.

I saw the tweet posted by @PetroleumEcon shortly before I received the many texts from my colleagues and an image of the award itself. Screaming with joy, I was just as thrilled as if I had been there sitting at the table with the team. A great moment for us – a fantastic night for a company that has worked together closely, using its understanding of automation, instrumentation, electrical, control and telecommunications technologies to communicate and raise awareness of the benefits that these technologies can bring to the world.

In other words, we are champs.

It’s not often that we sing our own praises but I think in all fairness, we deserve to make the most of this one.

And our story doesn’t end there. We have also been nominated for Comms Team of the Year at the Energy Live Personality Awards. Taking place on the 7th December, we’ll be sure to keep you updated. ;)
 
Got a new technology which could transform the industry? To find out how we can help you get your message across to the people who matter, email info@armitage-comms.co.uk or tweet us at @ArmitageComm.



Friday, 17 November 2017

Our fave five tools for marketing digitalisation to the O&G industry

A world without oil is a world without transport, buildings, laptops, cosmetics, clothing, medication and more. Vitally important in our day-to-day lives, oil has become the most important source of energy since the mid-1950s. Yet prices fell dramatically in June 2014.

This poses a problem for the Oil & Gas (O&G) industry as a whole – with prices remaining so low, how do these companies maintain their competitiveness? 


The answer is with increasing difficulty unless they embrace the new technologies which support better insights, quicker decision-making and greater efficiency within day-to-day operations. Such advanced technologies allow operators to manage performance remotely and will transform the productivity of oil and gas plants around the globe.

But just how many O&G companies are prepared to change? How many are willing to embrace digitalisation?

Solution providers are embracing the challenge of turning O&G companies from technology-shy to committed participants with our help. 30 years of experience serving some of the world’s biggest blue-chip companies have given us an in-depth understanding of a range of technologies from automation and robotics through to telecommunications. Our experience has also taught us the best ways to reach the right customers, those customers who are likely to benefit from those technologies the most.


This experience has led to a number of successfully executed campaigns for a leading O&G supplier over the years and, most recently, to our nomination for Energy Consultancy of the Year (2017) in the Petroleum Economist Awards, alongside PR giants Edelman and Hill + Knowlton Strategies.

As an expression of gratitude for this award nomination, we have decided to share with you our favourite five tools for marketing new technologies to the O&G sector:

1) Whitepapers: A whitepapers engages the audience due its rich, substantive content which educates the reader about the challenges and how the client’s products can overcome them. This leads the customer to grasp an understanding of their need for the product which proves far more effective than a direct sell. Combining innovative ideas with thought leadership on issues which are highly relevant and timely resonates with the reader.

Tip: Whitepapers must be thoroughly researched and planned. Without taking the time to do this, whitepapers simply won’t be effective.

Our O&G whitepaper has been referred to as the ‘Bible’ on digitalisation for the industry. It received substantial downloads via our client’s website and through advertising in industry leading titles. Why? Because we spent time extensively interviewing and researching the subject with clients, their customers and industry experts.  Readers need only turn to page three to find pull quotes from an O&G player and a specialist in digital technologies. 

2) Animations: Compelling content tells a story. This may seem simplistic at first and a more appropriate tip for a journalist, but the same rules apply when marketing to businesses. Animations provide the easiest visual way of accomplishing this. They enable us to get the message across within the right context and, when scripted correctly, provide a thorough understanding of a product’s features and benefits. It’s also worth noting that 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text (Source: Hubspot). Many people prefer the quick and easy method of absorbing information through video rather than words. 

Tip: Write the script first and then decide the images that you want to use to promote that message.

One of our animations maps the upstream oil and gas plant and the digital technologies which, applied to each area, enable plant managers to maximise production and uncover hidden profits. Shared across our client’s website and social media platforms, the animation has received a total of 23,065 views and 119 likes on YouTube.

3) Positioning documents: A positioning document communicates exactly how a client’s product fills a consumer need in a way that its competitors don’t. For example, our client needs to convince the oil and gas industry that their products and services are going to support the transition from industry 3.0 to industry 4.0.

Tip: Use persuasive techniques such as emotive language and personal pronouns as well as graphs, flowcharts and imagery to engage the reader.

The opening pages of a key positioning document we developed for the leading O&G supplier keep it simple. ‘Turning chaos…into clarity’ provides a strong juxtaposition of the industry's potential before and after digitalisation. From ‘dumb data’ to ‘analytic intelligence’ and ‘growing complexity’ into ‘simplified processes’ the highly contrasting language positions our client as the leader of the pack.

4) Infographics: Sometimes new technologies and their applications need to be communicated in a visual way to explore the benefits which are found at each stage of the process over the coming months and years. In this way, customers gain an insight into the long term advantages and improvements of installing our client’s products and services within each area of the plant.

Tip: Where possible, use real-life success stories explaining the products in action at existing customers’ businesses.

An infographic we created, available in static and interactive form, maps the journey from the upstream oil and gas pollution plants through to the downstream petrochemical plants. Mapping the benefits of digitalisation at each stage using case studies from ‘lowering costs by up to 30%’ at a FPSO to the control of ‘1850km of Europe’s gas demand’ at a natural gas pipeline gives the prospective customer a more in-depth understanding and belief in the success of our client’s solutions. 

5)   Microsites: As an agency we also endeavour to understand the most complex topics affecting today’s oil and gas operators. For example, Functional Safety, whereby analysers and instruments perform demands which prevent hazards occurring, has often led to confused industry participants.

Tip: Express your expertise loud and clear to position the client as a thought-leader.

In order to ensure that operators understand the role that our client’s products play in maintaining process safety, we created a dedicated online resource. This microsite includes information about our client’s safety management and training services as well as many PDF downloads for guides explaining the many aspects of Functional Safety from safety requirement specifications (SRS) through to industry good practice. Encouraging prospective customers to visit this website as a reliable source of educational information not only promotes a growth of trust in the brand, but also increases the likelihood that it will be our client’s products that the operator chooses to purchase when the time is right for them.

Our fave five tools for marketing to the O&G industry can, in theory, be applied to any other business market. Executing a marketing strategy which uses in-depth industry analysis as a foundation for content is a sure-fire way to get products and services in the limelight. The next challenge is to decide what mixture of collateral to use. We believe our multi-channel approach, such as the promotion of whitepapers, positioning documents, animations, infographics and microsites, linked with aligned traditional marketing methods,, is the only way to ensure that your prospects are reached at all levels.

To find out more about how we successfully market new technologies, simply drop us an email at info@armitage-comms.co.uk or tweet @ArmitageComm

Friday, 1 September 2017

Will Brownies be our future tech queens?

Collecting badges was as exciting as collecting insta likes 

For the first time in a while I’m wishing that I was ten again. Most of the time I enjoy my young adult life but more recently I’ve been reconsidering my hobbies.

What can I enjoy for free? And possibly make a little pocket money from at the same time? I know that some bloggers get fantastic perks – free clothes, free meals out at restaurants, and even all expenses paid trips if they become Zoella-level famous.


I have a confession to make though. I’m not highly skilled at HTML coding, a talent which is useful to have if you’re a blogger.

Last month the news broke that the Girl Scouts of the USA have rolled out badges in Robotics, Engineering and other Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects. At home I have a sash from my days as a Brownie. I was one of the Elves and my first badges included a broom (House Orderly), a tea cup (Hostess) and a spider web (Craft). I greatly appreciate how these skills have helped me so far but I seriously doubt whether the Boy Scouts were told it was crucial that they learn how to make a sandwich.  

Today’s Girl Scouts will be encouraged to develop their skills in areas such as cyber security which have traditionally been perceived as male-dominated. Our 2015 blog ‘The STEM of gender bias’ examined how toys are colour-coded to differentiate between the boys and the girls. It’s about time that belief systems were disrupted – encouraging girls as young as five to understand concepts such as cyber security will help lead the way. 

According to Assistant Professor Vanessa LoBlue, young children’s initial concepts about gender are flexible. It is only when children reach the age of around five that concepts around gender begin to be developed. Children then begin to actively seek out gender-related information. Faced with a world which encourages girls to play with dolls and guys to play with trucks, it’s no wonder that many girls grow up to believe that they’re not suitable for jobs in IT, or in mechanics or engineering.

"My badges are better than yours, boy."
Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg knows a thing or two about what it takes for a woman not only to become a C-level member of staff but to compete with the male candidates for a job at one of the world’s most valuable tech companies. With Facebook rated by Forbes magazine as number 10 in the world’s biggest tech companies, Sheryl worked hard to get where many women wouldn’t even dare to dream, but she wasn’t without her insecurities in the process.

Reading economics at Harvard, Sheryl Sandberg explains to Kirsty Young on Desert Island Discs that she struggled with self-doubt. “We know that women more than men suffer with the imposter syndrome and systematically underestimate their own performance. Every test I thought I was going to fail. When I did well I thought I had fooled them.”

Initiatives like those of the Girls Scouts where young girls can now receive badges for developing programming, coding and cyber security skills will hopefully encourage more young girls to consider themselves capable of leadership roles in large technology companies such as Facebook. Women are largely underrepresented in these fields, an issue that I believe will change as more and more young girls are introduced to these subjects from a young age.

Girl Scouts, I salute you. I only wish that I could join. Is 26 too old?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Did technology kill the journalist star?

It's been over a week since Gavin Sheriff and Darryl Smith shut up shop for their last ever Friday at the Dundee-based Sunday post in Fleet Street. As the last Fleet Street newspaper takes it final bow, we examine how changes in technology over the decades have had a direct hit on the way we receive our information and the professionals who provide it.


How times have changed. When the first British newspaper the Daily Courant was published in Fleet Street in 1702, news was printed using plates which had been engraved with the story before being inked and pressed onto paper. The newspaper consisted of a single page with advertisements on the reverse. As the century wore on newspapers were printed as little as once a month and government taxes were imposed to attempt to control the spread of information. After all, knowledge is power and the leaders of the country were unlikely to welcome any oppositional views. Nevertheless by 1767 the number of newspapers sold in Britain stood at 11,300,980.

By the 19th century there were 52 London papers and over 100 other titles with The Times beginning life in 1785 as The Daily Universal Register. Despite rising taxes, the tone of many newspapers was fiercely revolutionary and the productivity of newspapers increased greatly as steam powered the printing process. The speed of reporting also changed with the telegraph system in the late 1800s transmitting messages from across the country, easing the accessibility to breaking news and giving journalists a brisk writing style that is still used in news reports today. 11,300,980 English newspapers became 122,000,000 by 1854.


Radio gaga

By the 1930s over two thirds of the population was estimated to read a newspaper every day whilst the onset of radio broadcasts meant that the nature of journalism was to change again. Radio provided the fastest and most up-to-date coverage as stories developed. Journalists had to speed their reporting up and an audience that was used to getting yesterday’s news today would have access to breaking stories for the first time. Long-distance broadcasting furthered the globalisation of media coverage at a time when the planet was in the grips of the Second World War.

“Today’s news will be tomorrow’s fish and chip wrap!”

Of course, not long after radio came to the fore did television become the next big thing with actual faces on a screen reporting the news. The BBC’s Richard Baker broke the first daily TV news story about French troop movements in Tunisia.

For a time, newspapers, magazines, radio and television lived in relative harmony. Of course journalism was adapted to suit either medium but there was an established reliance and trust on these formats to provide the world with need-to-know information.


News 4.0

As the internet dial-up tone rang in homes across the country in the late 1990s print journalists should have heeded the warning. Before long instant access to news stories online via PCs, laptops and mobile phones via broadband and 4G saw newspaper sales drop astronomically. Print advertising revenues fell by 15% during 2015 and a further 20% drop is predicted over the course of this year.

Add to this the dormant mistrust in media corporations left resonating in the wake of the phone hacking scandal of 2011-12 and we’re left with an empty Fleet Street – or at least a journalist empty Fleet Street. 

Cheeky tip – you can still visit the El Vino wine bar which was the first famous journalists’ drinking establishment and it still looks the same as it always did.

Journalist watering hole El Vino banned women until 1984
Where are they now?

Journalists still exist but today they have to be super dynamic. News has to be readily adaptable and available via a number of platforms such as YouTube, social media and personal blogs with televised coverage often spliced into videos that can be streamed online.

Journalism has also become anybody’s game. The ability to generate and self-publish news is now in the hands of anyone with an internet connection and digital reporters have to listen to the audience conversation to inform their next decisions. The audience decide what’s considered news-worthy, what tone to adapt and what issues and trends are going to receive the biggest surge in traffic to boost online advertising sales.

The problem with this is that there’s now a profusion of news content online, some of which is terribly written and falsified just to get click-throughs. We can always rely on traditional news websites such as the BBC, The Telegraph and The Independent for reliable insights into current affairs but how long will it be before the nature of journalism metamorphosises again?

Will the rise of virtual reality (VR) mean news broadcasts where the audience is immersed directly within the warzone? How will audience participation work in this format? When does the multitude of new stories become just too much news?

Is the digital world becoming, dare I say it, just too noisy?

I for one love to indulge in the quiet of a back-to-basics reading of The Evening Standard from time-to-time, don’t you?

Friday, 10 June 2016

Redefining UK engineering: why UTCs and businesses must collaborate

Ask any kid what they’d like to do when they grow up and the chances are the response you’ll get will be astronaut, firefighter or popstar. Little do they know the full spectrum of career choices out there, specifically within the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) fields.


In fact, if you want to be an astronaut, it’s advised that you gain a bachelor’s degree in Civil or Aerospace Engineering. But what’s on offer for students prior to higher education to get them suitably engaged in such studies?

Thankfully, there are now colleges devoted to steering the younger generation towards more technical subjects. UTCs or University Technical Colleges provide 14-18 year olds with the knowledge and hands-on training they’ll need in today’s UK industry. But with little government funding, marketing budget and a desperate need for more support from local universities and businesses, are UTCs being fairly recognised for the difference that they’re making to filling the UK skills gap? And could the difference be even greater if there was more collaboration?

We interviewed Andy Osborn, Head of Engineering at UTC Central Bedfordshire, for his perspective.


Tell us a bit about the UTC Central Bedfordshire. 
Firstly, let’s get to grips with what a UTC is because not many people are aware of what they actually are. UTCs teach students aged between 14 and 18 years a number of mandatory GCSEs; however, instead of accompanying these with humanities, languages or art, they study whatever the UTC specialises in, typically technical and scientific subjects. We specialise in mechatronics, manufacturing and automation.

How else are UTCs different from normal secondary schools? What do they offer that normal state schools don’t? 
They place emphasis on one area of study. Often students like UTCs because they offer specialist courses taught by teachers who specialise in that field. Similar to a university, no-one teaches outside of their area, whereas at a high school, a humanities teacher may also teach English - there’s a fair bit more juggling involved. Students also enjoy the excellent resources we have. At UTC Central Bedfordshire, we work with local employers to find resources such as PLCs, HMIs, robots and conveyor belt systems to really give the students some context for what they’re learning. The upshot is that they receive the training they’ll need to take them directly into an engineering role.

Local businesses seem to be supportive then? 
Local employers provide their time in terms of training the staff to use the equipment correctly in order to effectively teach. The payback for supporting businesses is that it raises the talent pool in their sector. They can come and select the brightest students and fast track those who demonstrate the highest skill set to a job within their business. Lockheed Martin, a global aerospace company, and MJS Group, a medical electronic devices company, are two local companies we’re partnered with. They come in to see the students and educate them about typical roles at their companies, send previous apprentices in to present what can be achieved and set projects for the students to sink their teeth into – projects which reflect the typical applications they would have to deal with on the job.

Tell me a bit about your role as Head of Engineering. 
Now you’re asking! As an engineering college, my role encompasses everything from employer engagement through to setting and certifying the curriculum, as well as ensuring the offer is kept fresh and relevant to satisfy the perceived local need. Of course I also teach as well, specifically sought after skills such as PLC programming, HMI and robotics engineering.

What kind of equipment do you have at the college to aid the students in their courses? 
A large industrial robot, two table top robots, an industrial conveyor system and PLC Lab. We’d like to have a lot more but UTCs rely on industrial partners for donations as we simply don’t have the budget to afford the various types of equipment which would help us. I spoke with one robot supplier and they gave a price which was miles out of our range. In the end I went to a second hand refurbishers who have donated a robot so we could promote the technology in that area.  Most robot manufacturers and automation companies are looking for robot programmers. If we had the equipment in place to train then this would feed back into the vacancies in robot engineering.

I think that most UK businesses need an appreciation of the bigger picture. If a student trains using equipment manufactured by a particular company, then that’s what the student will know when they go into the workplace. Then when they’re asked, ‘What HMI should we be using?” naturally they’re going to recommend the manufacturer that they trained with. The challenge is getting people to see that in the short term. 

A joint venture between Unipart and Coventry University, the Institute of Advanced Manufacturing is a great example of what's possible when business and education work together.
Have you any examples of how Central Bedfordshire UTC has developed students into workplaces or universities where they are likely to continue on a STEM career path? 
We’ve never had anyone leave here NEET. But don’t worry, we don’t mean our students leave here looking like a scruff, NEET stands ‘Not in employment, education or training.’ Thirty percent of the year group about to leave have university offers, thirty percent have apprenticeships approved and the others are going through the university or apprenticeship selection process, all still within the STEM field.

In your opinion, are UTCs valued enough by the government in light of the STEM gap?
No. Coming back to my first point - nobody really knows what UTCs are. One of our main battles is marketing to the public. Yet once the students come through the door the conversion rate is as high as 75%.  Students see the resources and if they want to study engineering they stay.
It’s difficult to persuade people to come out of the mainstream education sector.  However, normal colleges and sixth forms won’t have the facilities for STEM subjects that UTCs do. If you want to study plumbing, woodwork, motor mechanics, electrical installation etc. then yes, I’d advise attending a regular college but if students want to engage in a technical specialism, then a UTC is the best place for them. 
But are there enough apprenticeship schemes?
There are a lot more apprenticeship schemes than there were ten years ago when I first started teaching. The college had two engineering apprentices, nowadays it has around 100. Employers have recognised they have an ageing workforce, so they are coming to UTCs and further education colleges to source their employees. I’m a bit concerned about how the Apprenticeship Levy will change things though. Apprenticeships used to be fully funded by the government with no cost to the employer. Now there’s a cost which has unsettled things, and the exact nature of that cost to the employer is still not finalised. Apprenticeship schemes are also popular for micro-businesses and SMEs, and the worry is that any funding changes  may make them no longer viable for this size of company.

How do you think careers in STEM are perceived by the younger generation? Is the stereotype changing in any way?
The students don’t really know what engineering is when they come, there’s still a typical ‘oily rags’ perception. There needs to be an overall change in the perception of where a career in engineering could lead. Engineering isn’t just in a workshop working on metal or wood, although these are still valuable skills. There’s a plethora of engineering roles out there from nanotechnology right through to aerospace, so what students need is a detailed explanation of the different sectors. The exciting thing about engineering today is that there are new roles being created all the time. At UTC Central Bedfordshire we’re educating students for jobs that don’t exist yet. We provide the underpinning knowledge that will secure them a job in the future. However, we do rely on local industry to keep us abreast of their technological needs.

As part of the #EngineeringFacelift campaign, we aim to spread the message about just how broad the spectrum of career opportunities there are for both men and women within the engineering sector.
The educational awareness needs to come through a collaborative effort. Employers are always looking for recruitment opportunities. It makes sense for businesses to go into a school with a working example of what they do. Imagine taking a working robot into a school hall – the students would become hooked. Then as UTCs we can go in after and say “Remember when such and such company came in, this is how you could work with that equipment every day when you’re older.”  
Do British parents also have a role to play in negative connotations of STEM careers?
The difficulty with most UK parents is that they also latch on to the ‘oily rag’ idea because they don’t fully understand what engineering is – again it comes back to education and spreading the message. Often engineering students tend to come from engineering parents. I’m not being sexist, but often the dads are the engineers, and they have more appreciation of what we do. Occasionally our students have mothers in STEM roles, but this is far less common.

This leads in nicely to our next question. In terms of gender roles, do you feel that girls are encouraged to pursue different paths?
Since I started teaching engineering 10 years ago the percentage hasn’t changed, which is a shame. There are 80 students at UTC Central Bedfordshire, 4 of whom are female. However I will say that the female students are always very good, perhaps they have to fight a lot harder to compete. Employers are always on the lookout for female engineers to act as ambassadors for their company. Again, it could come back to the common perception of engineering, and family background.
What extra-curricular activities could motivate young children to consider STEM as a career later in life?  
I know HTML coding is now part of the national curriculum, perhaps this could be developed into an application based activity. Rather than just watching graphics move on a screen, actually making a piece of equipment do something. There’s plently of accessible, affordable kit available such as the Micro:Bit, RaspberryPi and Arduino. The important thing is to give the students freedom to make something – it doesn’t matter if it doesn’t work – giving young people the space to have that creativity will inspire them to think more about how the world around them has been made.

Do you have any advice for any young people who are keen to become engineers? 
Find out as much as you can about engineering and think big about where it could take you. Consider that UK industry has to bring the workforce over from abroad and pay them silly money because there are no local skills available. With a qualification in engineering you’re guaranteed a job and it can be just as lucrative a career path as medicine or law and certainly a more realistic one than being a pop star! There’s also a lot of flexibility – start researching the many different engineering roles out there and you’ll soon discover how varied, exciting and progressive modern industry is.

I know a young person who may be interested in attending a UTC. How would they go about applying?
Students can join a UTC in Year 10 or Year 12. The first step is to attend a UTC open day or event to get a feel for the school and its courses. You can find your local UTC and what its specialisms are here but I’ve also provided a full list of all of the UTCS nationwide below. Once you’ve decided upon the right UTC for you, application is as simple as visiting the website, downloading and filling in an application form and sending it back to us via email.

What are your thoughts? Are you a parent who feels that there’s not enough emphasis on STEM careers in secondary education? Or are you a UK business that feels the government should be doing more to help education and industry work together? Get in touch by clicking the Twitter button below or tweet using the hashtag #EngineeringFacelift.

Find your nearest UTC below: