Virtual work experience helping break down barriers to STEM careers

A virtual work experience programme launched by Siemens during the pandemic is breaking down barriers to STEM careers.

The free programme, which combines live webinars, videos, and activities, has seen 1,164 young people log-in and learn about how engineering and technology builds a more sustainable future. 

While moving to online delivery from in-person placements has enabled Siemens to increase the number of students it can offer work experience to, it has also increased diversity and inclusion, and helped young people overcome limitations and barriers such as geography, mobility, financial constraints, and inflexibility due to school or employer timings.

For example, while ethnic minorities are broadly underrepresented in STEM fields, more than half (55%) of students participating in Siemens’ virtual work experience programme were from BAME backgrounds. 

The programme has contributed to efforts to reduce the gender gap in STEM, by inspiring the 40% of female participants.

Siemens has also been able to overcome geographical barriers, showcasing STEM as a career path to hundreds of 14 to 18-year-olds in every corner of the UK, rather than to just those living near Siemens sites.

A third round of virtual work experience to run from October 26 to November 5 will give more young people an opportunity to explore and see what a future career at Siemens looks like. The deadline for applications is Wednesday, October 20.

Brenda Yearsley, education development manager, Siemens GB&I said: “Offering free, accessible work experience for students is vital to increase diversity and inclusion, inspire a career in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and showcase Siemens as a career path.

“Moving to an online delivery has helped us continue to offer this valuable experience to young people, regardless of geographical location, with some truly remarkable outcomes when it comes to gender and ethnic diversity, something Siemens is passionate about addressing.

“While Siemens’ sites begin to open up their doors again to in-person work experience opportunities, the chance to continue to give more school and college students invaluable practical skills, industry experience, and a head start for their careers is increasingly important to the post-pandemic recovery.”

The two-week programme, which is delivered on careers platform Springpod, involves around 10 hours of activities, pre-recorded videos, quizzes and live webinars. 

Modules include: an overview of Siemens, its core values and six lines of business; an introduction to the field of engineering, the various disciplines, sustainability in engineering and the design process; an introduction to the world of technology, the different pathways within the sector and what roles in tech involve; an introduction to the other business services such as sustainability, legal, marketing and finance; early careers opportunities at Siemens such as apprenticeship, internship and graduate schemes; an introduction to employability skills, how to build a CV and how to apply for a role at Siemens.

Once complete, students earn a certificate which can be used for a CV and personal statement. To apply visit https://www.springpod.com/virtual-work-experience/siemens-virtual-work-experience

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