Young people learn about 'skills for sustainability' at South Yorkshire's largest STEM careers event

This year’s Get up to Speed with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) ‘Skills for Sustainability’ event for young people, organised by the Work-wise Foundation, was a huge success, hosting over 5,000 visitors at Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham recently (29th March).

For the first time, visitors had access to the entire Magna Science Adventure Centre attraction, as well as the chance to meet many of the region’s leading employers and get hands learning about their industry, jobs and careers. They also had chance to explore some of our industrial history and heritage with the chance to see a Spitfire, Vulcan XH558 Engine and classic police vehicles. They even got chance to sit in a McLaren and interact with virtual reality, gaming activities and solve crimes! The event was attended by over 100 local business exhibitors who were looking to attract and inspire the workforce of the future.

This year’s theme was Skills for Sustainability, which saw exhibitors showcasing some of their innovations towards achieving net zero, as well as demonstrating some of the opportunities in the green energy sector which will provide employment for people in the future.  Many of the local businesses who exhibited at the event used the opportunity to reveal innovative robotics and automation solutions that are likely to drive competitiveness in manufacturing and engineering in the future.

As well as seeing some of the most exiting STEM innovations, pupils had the opportunity to speak to a wide variety of businesses, inventors, graduates, apprentices and education providers about future career opportunities.

Dame Julie Kenny DBE, DL, Master Cutler, said: “Almost 5,000 young people had the opportunity to meet many South Yorkshire companies in a wide variety of industries at the event.

“Young people who visited Get up to Speed will come away feeling they can do whatever they want to do and be whatever they want to be! It is great to see companies exhibiting their products and skills to inspire young people!”

Before the event, organisers The Work-Wise Foundation, held a Business Breakfast, for businesses to come together to discuss what they can do to support and inspire STEM careers in the region, and why it’s so important for economic and sustainable growth.

Keynote speakers included Dame Julie Kenny DBE, DL, Master Cutler, Richard Sulley – Net Zero Project Director from South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority and Tom Rumboll – UK Managing Director of IAA Inc and CEO, SYNETIQ Ltd, plus Richard Caborn, President of The Work-wise Foundation and Chair of Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park. Along with headline sponsors AESSEAL, CBE+ and Sheffield Forgemasters - they spoke about and debated the challenges for businesses to become more sustainable, their journeys balancing growth and sustainability, and how skills are the answer to all of this.

Richard Sulley, Net Zero Project Director, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA), said: “We have world-class facilities and world-class universities in the region, so we need to make the best use of what is available to ensure that we can close the skills gap.

“Young people want to work for exciting companies where they feel like they are making a difference. Having sustainability at the forefront of business culture and priorities is becoming increasingly important.  This event is a great way to showcase just what opportunities exist for young people in South Yorkshire.”

Tom Rumboll, UK Managing Director, IAA, Inc & CEO, SYNETIQ Ltd, said: “Businesses, big and small, are committing to net zero, but many don’t yet know how to get there.

“Showing your customers that you are on your journey, and taking steps towards it will attract more clients and could put your business ahead of your competitors.”

John Barber, CEO of The Work-Wise Foundation, said: “The theme for this year’s event was to raise awareness of the need for greater sustainability skills in the region.

“South Yorkshire has set out a plan to be Net Zero by 2040, so it’s essential that we have the right skills in place to achieve those targets. Businesses are still experiencing skills shortages and the answer to this problem is young people! Given the right direction and access to skills, they can fulfil that need!”

Comments from teachers about Get up to Speed included: “It was an amazing experience for our Year 10 engineers. It seems to be getting bigger every year! Many of our students have come away focused on being a part of the sector post 16” and, “Very impressive to get so many major companies to attend. Demonstrates their support of getting messages over to children about job opportunities for when they leave full time education. Great variety from many sectors. We always come away with more connections and ideas.”

For eleven years, Get up to Speed, which is championed by employers and organised by The Work-wise Foundation alongside key partners in the private and public sectors, has showcased STEM career opportunities to over 30,000 young people and their families from across the South Yorkshire region and beyond.

Get up to Speed is designed for young people, their families and teachers to see some of the UK's best innovations first-hand, hear from and talk to those involved in their success and learn about the future of the sector and its evolution through technology.

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