Case Studies

Summarised case study

The aims of the project were to evaluate the extent to which industry school links in Cheshire and Warrington have increased as a result of project and to measure any increase in student numbers progressing from school and further education courses in STEM subjects also to assess any increase in recruitment into STEM industries as a result of increased student contact.

The recurring skills sought after by employers were for the students to have the ability to analyse data, having I.T. shills with a hands on approach to problem solving, the ability to make improvements and work within a team, these skills are incorporated within the STEM workshops.

All the employers interviewed supported the need to widen participation in STEM to actively encourage young people to study science, according to the Semta Sector Skills Council, the STEM sector needs to recruit 170,000 people, half of which need to be qualified engineers, technologists and scientists. 342 students attended the workshops and the feedback and outcome was generally positive from both students and teachers; the students commented saying they enjoyed the practicals involved from the food forensics and biochemistry workshop, the code breaking from the mathematics workshop, and learning how to use new software within computer science which is not available in high school. Some students explained how the best thing about the workshop was the chance to glimpse into university life. The STEM workshops were rated from 1-6, 1 being poor and 6 being excellent, the mean value for the biomedical, biochemistry and principles of biology was 5.1 quantitative principles and analytical techniques mean result was 5.0 and the mathematics workshops mean result was 5.3.

Employers from local STEM industries discussed career opportunities with the students at each workshop and university staff gave information on higher level STEM courses and the different ways of accessing them. This has now become an established format for STEM workshops. The University of Chester takes an active role in a number of networking groups across the region including Employer Engagement groups in Cheshire West and Chester, the Mersey-Dee Alliance, North West Science Alliance, local Chambers of Commerce and North West Business Leaders Forum. Continued commitment to these networks and partnership working with employers, other universities and colleges provides the necessary support for collaborative bids for new sources of funding for future developments and the sustainability of STEM at the University.