Mentor sessions help students plan for careers

Students from Blackburn are being inspired to explore jobs with the support of our region’s employers.

Year 9 and 10 Pupils at Our Lady and St John Catholic College in Shadsworth, have been working with volunteers from the National Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) Ambassador programme who represent companies in the area to discuss career opportunities.

The sessions designed and delivered by local education company STEMFirst, and funded by Future U, allow the students to learn about the possibilities of STEM careers and hear first-hand what they need to do to study for a job in the sector.

The students link with mentors who can advise them on career routes, and give them an insight into industry. The sessions have proved popular so far, with most students saying they had learnt new skills and given them useful information and advice.

The sessions are designed to help more students from the area explore the career opportunities available if they continue into higher education after finishing high school, as well as preparing students with the skills needed to apply for university places, live away from home for the first time, and apply for jobs.

Theo Blackburn (left), Programme Manager at Future U, said: “We are delighted to be working with STEMFirst again to continue to support pupils despite the many challenges that schools are currently facing.

“Now more than ever, it is important to provide young people with an inspirational careers programme to encourage and motivate them. This mentoring programme allows pupils to hear from local employers and develop employability skills that will help them in their future careers, especially if they decide to pursue a career within STEM.”

Sue Hargreaves, Director, STEMFirst, who run the STEM Ambassador HUB for Lancashire and Cumbria said: “The FutureU Mentoring Programme is a great opportunity for learners to start to think about the skills they need to develop, to face their own future careers with confidence, and meet real people who put those skills into practice.”

Since launching in 2017, Future U has held more than 800 events and activities to support over 16,000 young people to think about applying for university. The programme works alongside the county’s four universities and 10 colleges throughout Lancashire and has continued to deliver activities online during the lockdown.

In addition to promoting the benefits of university to prospective students, the programme also supports young people to understand student finance, living away from home and raising career ambitions to develop the next set of skilled workers for the county.

Future U is part of the national Uni Connect Programme, funded by the Office for Students, and continues to support school pupils across Lancashire to encourage more young people to think about higher education and future careers. The project involves institutions and organisations across the county including the University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, Edge Hill University and the University of Cumbria.

Lancashire’s Future U works with a network of schools, in addition to colleges, higher education providers and local agencies to create tailored activities to meet the needs of students for now and the future.

Its list of partners includes: Blackburn College, Blackpool Sixth Form College, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Burnley College, Edge Hill University, Inspira, Kendal College, Lancaster University, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College, Preston’s College, STEMFirst, Runshaw College, The Lancashire Colleges, University of Central Lancashire, University of Cumbria, West Lancashire College.

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