Business and education join forces to inspire young people into STEM

Looking at ways to inspire young people to follow a career in a forward looking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) organisation is something not lost on water company United Utilities.

The only FTSE 100 company based in the North West of England future success relies on attracting the next generation of scientists, engineers and digital workers to help continue to deliver its 7 million customers with clean, fresh drinking water each day, before taking it all away again, treating it so it’s safe to go back into the environment.

“The key to getting young people interested, is by capturing their imagination that a career in the water industry is both exciting and challenging,” said Karen Hughes, Head of Organisation Development at United Utilities.

“We realise an ideal opportunity to showcase what we’re all about is to work more closely with the education sector. It’s for this reason we joined forces with four high schools from Warrington to help attract potential engineers of the future.

Students from four schools, Beamont Collegiate Academy, Bridgwater High School, Sir Thomas Boteler CE High School and Penketh High School, who are part of The Challenge Academy Trust (TCAT), have worked with United Utilities over the past 16 weeks to find engineering solutions to water and wastewater problems.

“This special link-up we have created with the Multi Academy Trust will help us reach out and encourage young people from the communities we serve to think about what we do as a business and how are employees help to solve interesting and complex engineering challenges” added Karen.

Chris Hillidge representing the Multi Academy Trust said, “Working with United Utilities has given our students the opportunity to get a feel for what it’s like to work in an energetic forward looking STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) organisation.

“The students got to see close up what important work United Utilities do and I’m sure many of the students will go on to some exciting and rewarding careers, hopefully at United Utilities.” The group of budding engineers under the supervision of mentors from United Utilities worked on a series of in depth and challenging water industry problems, learning important business skills through a special Dragons’ Den style business competition.

At the Dragons’ Den style judging day, two teams really stood out, one from Sir Thomas Botler and the second team represented by Bridgewater High school, who both picked up the joint winning prize. Karen said: “All the students who took part can be absolutely proud of what they achieved and we saw lots of potential future leaders in the groups. The way the students were able to communicate their ideas from a water energy saving app, pipelines that reduce the power required to pump water, wind turbines and grey water reuse really impressed the judging panel, especially the level of thought and planning that had gone into their presentations.

“As a business we got a lot out of this partnership. We’re excited by the untapped potential of our young people and we hope we can build on this collaborate partnership going forward.”

United Utilities has launched its annual search for apprentices to join its award winning scheme. The company has 27 vacancies on offer.

Click here for full details on our apprentice scheme