Five and a half thousand (5,500) pupils and educators from across the South Yorkshire region were given a unique insight into careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) at the recent ‘Get up to Speed with STEM’ event, which was held at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham in March.

The annual event, the largest of its kind in the region and now in its 14th year, brought together dozens of businesses, colleges and organisations to showcase the wide variety of different career options that are available to young people in South Yorkshire, as well as letting them get involved in problem solving challenges and interactive activities. Young people were also given the chance to see some of the UK’s most exciting STEM innovations and meet the people who design, build and operate them.

John Barber, CEO of The Work-wise Foundation (organisers of the event), said: “Get up to Speed has been a phenomenal success this year. Every year the event gives young people  the chance to get a real-life experience of the world of work from local businesses, whilst being able to speak to apprentices, employees and business owners about the career pathways they could take to lead to a wide variety of roles.”

He adds: “Every year we receive some great feedback from teachers about how Get up to Speed really does inspire pupils with ideas that shape their future career.  We understand that it can be difficult for young people to find out about businesses and careers they may be interested in, so by bringing them all together at Get up to Speed, our aim is to overcome any obstacles and break down barriers to accessing career opportunities.”

Get up to Speed with STEM also gives companies taking part the opportunity to showcase their expertise, highlight career options and current vacancies and meet with other businesses, whilst helping to address the skills gaps across the sectors.

Pupils and teachers had the chance to explore the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) through an immersive 360-degree virtual tour, enabling them to understand how the largest general purpose particle detector experiment in the world works. This unique attraction came about as a result of the National Videogame Museum teaming up with the University of Sheffield and CERN in Switzerland.

Visitors also had the opportunity to try out a wide range of diverse activities from metal casting with United Cast Bar, Water Quality testing with the Canal and River Trust, wall building with Esh Construction to using a heat press for clothing with SBD Apparel and E sports with The British Army.

Three award celebrations took place during the day, including Vulcan to the Sky, AMETEK Land and the High Sheriff’s Building a Better Future Together Challenge.  These mini events celebrated the success of pupils that took part in competitions with businesses in the run-up to Get up to Speed.

In addition, Stream 7, a video production company based in Sheffield, created GUTS TV, which ran throughout the day, giving pupils the unique opportunity to get involved with the video production and editing process.

Get up to Speed started with a Business Breakfast, themed this year around “Health and Wellbeing for Skills and Productivity”, which was opened by the Master Cutler, Charles Turner DL, with keynote speaker Jason Brannan, Deputy Director of the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre in Sheffield.  Richard Caborn, former Minister for Sport and Civil Society, provided closing remarks.

Master Cutler Charles Turner DL said:”The manufacturing sector in South Yorkshire requires raw materials and the main one is skills.  Our region needs 10,000 new recruits into industry in the next 10 years and today’s event is an important part of this journey.  We make everything in South Yorkshire from scalpels to fighter jet components, modular reactors to knives that cuts food for the supermarkets and we need young people coming through to fill these roles, across all areas of manufacturing.”

This year’s event sponsors include: Gold Sponsors; AESSEAL, CBE+, Sheffield Forgemasters, Worshipful Company of Ironmongers and  Stream 7. Silver Sponsors; Arm, Forged Solutions, The Institution of Engineering and Technology, Hydra Creative, Dragonfly PR and Bronze Sponsors; AMETEK Land, Highlander Computing Solutions, AMG Chrome,  CPH2, Made in Sheffield and the Canal and River Trust.

Since 2010, Get up to Speed, which is championed by employers and organised by The Work-wise Foundation alongside key partners in the private sector, has showcased STEM career opportunities to over 39,000 young people and their families from across the South Yorkshire region and beyond.  There were over 70 businesses exhibiting at Get up to Speed, many of them from the South Yorkshire region.

Get up to Speed is designed to enable 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 science, technology, manufacturing and engineering in our region.

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