GE Foundation’s Next Engineers Staffordshire celebrates success

GE Foundation’s Next Engineers Staffordshire launched in October 2021, with the aim of increasing the diversity of young people entering engineering. Staffordshire is one of four global locations, and students across the county have benefited from 2,200 volunteer hours from GE’s employees.

The programme delivered by Connectr is designed to inspire students aged between 13 to 18 years old. In its first year,

  • More than 2,000 students from 11 Staffordshire schools completed Engineering Discovery sessions (aimed at Year 9 students), with ~50 percent of students identifying as female.
  • Over 200 people applied for Engineering Experience (aimed at Year 10 students), from 27 different Staffordshire schools. ~15 percent of these students were from a diverse ethnic background.
  • 30 percent of Engineering Academy applicants (aimed at Year 11-13 students) identified as female, with 24 percent being from diverse ethnic groups.
  • 99 percent of Engineering Academy students were retained throughout the first year, and 82 percent of the students are currently considering an Engineering degree or Engineering apprenticeship.

Commenting on the success of the programme, Jennifer Edwards, Global Program Director, GE Foundation, states: “It’s one thing to reach thousands of young people through a new programme, but the fact so many have not only stuck with it but have been inspired enough to think ‘yes engineering could be a career for me’ is phenomenal. It proves that if you give young people a real, practical taste of engineering and show them the possibilities as a career – you can ignite a whole generation into a critical profession”.

The industry, like many STEM sectors, has historically struggled to spark interest among young people, especially those from diverse and disadvantaged backgrounds. Next Engineers is looking to address this talent shortage and protect the sector for the future.

Alan White, Leader of Staffordshire County Council, is pleased with the fantastic work so far and highlights: “Next Engineers provides Staffordshire students with vital engineering experiences and opportunities that they may not have had exposure to without the support of this programme. It has been designed to give young people the chance to look at engineering as a viable career choice and is aimed to increase the diversity of those going into this field.

“The investment that GE Stafford is making to ensure we have engineers for the future of our world is outstanding. I encourage all schools to get involved because Next Engineers supports the development of our students’ soft skills too, and this is an important part of their career readiness journeys.”