In Education

Inspiring tomorrows Engineers

In the next 10 years, 60% of all new jobs in the UK will require skills in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. In 2009, National Grid published our Engineering the Future report – a research project that asked 14-19-year-olds, their parents and teachers what they thought about engineering as a career. It revealed that many thought engineering was "all about dirty, male, low-paid jobs"; 60% couldn't name a recent engineering achievement and girls were 10 times less likely to pursue a career in engineering than boys. Much of the bias stemmed from primary school and few children understood how engineering links to the future economy.

National Grid is undertaking a range of activities to build young people's awareness of the importance of STEM skills. We also need the support of schools and parents, as well as other organisations and businesses, all of us pulling in the same direction. Together, we can enable thousands of young people to realise their potential.



Flying rockets, deafening bangs from circuit breakers and the chance to build a robot - who said STEM subjects were boring

More than 400 children, unsure about where their first foray into a world of science might take them, have been finding out more at our work experience events. Youngsters preparing to choose their A levels have had the decision made easier by our residential schemes, now in their fourth year.            

Run in conjunction with The Smallpeice Trust, the week-long programme brings the reality of life as a National Grid Engineer alive. There are plenty of laughs as students get hands-on to find out about the future of energy and the importance of engineering.


Career labs  

The UK prides itself on its engineering tradition, yet many youngsters have no idea what being an engineer entails

A pioneering project between schools and business is helping to bring the world of work alive for sceptical young people. The Careers Lab pilot, launched at five schools in the Midlands, aims to bridge the gap between the skills young people have and the needs of business. Business Ambassadors from sponsors, including National Grid, share their career journey and work experiences in a series of lessons delivered in conjunction with the teachers.

The aim is clear... to inspire young people so that they aspire to different careers, by urging them to think about the choices open to them for the best chance of a job and successful career on leaving.

Students aged 11 to 16 can take part, but it’s up to schools to decide whether to run it as a full careers day or weekly lessons.



An international robotics competition. Exciting and inspiring the next generation of Engineers

The clock is ticking and the all-girl reigning VEX champions are carrying out some last-ditch fine-tuning to their robot. One slip-up could put paid to a repeat trip to the States for the world final to compete against teams from 21 other nations.

The children all say that the work we do with VEX helps them realise why STEM subjects are important. They don’t think of them as STEM now – they think of it as good stuff.

Stephen Sadler, teacher at East Barnet School

The tension is unbearable as schools from around the UK pit their engineering brains against each other in the National Grid-sponsored VEX Robotics finals. It’s Meccano with attitude... with children aged from 13 to 17 using sensors, motors, 3D-modelling software and remote control gadgetry to battle it out in a series of engineering challenges.

Thousands of schoolchildren have worked on the project already, using VEX as an exciting entry into the real-world application of design technology, computing and maths. But don’t just take our word for it... find out what the teachers and the Engineers of tomorrow think.



Tens of thousands of children wide-eyed with wonder, laughing and screaming with joy...

Rocket launches, smoke rings, weird weather and a trip to Mars were among the fun stuff bringing STEM subjects to life and showing youngsters the diverse range of careers they can lead to. The National Grid team was involved in some hair-raising fun, showing the effects of the Van de Graaff generator that gathers and then conducts electrical charge from a metal globe.

National Grid views The Big Bang Fair as a unique opportunity to engage with the next generation of talent. Business and education need to work together to ensure young people get inspired and stay engaged with STEM.

Jonathan Richardson, Education and Skills Specialist

National Grid’s Education and Skills Specialist Jonathan Richardson said: “The Big Bang spans robotics, weather, the environment, chemistry and explosions, the human body, design and technology – the list is endless. School year by school year we are blowing the cobwebs off the myth that STEM subjects are boring, and we are inspiring students by showing them that engineering is exciting and much more about laptops than it is about lathes.”

Big Bang offers schools a chance to compete against each other, to celebrate achievement and to promote themselves, but most importantly it’s great fun.



An opportunity for National Grid Employees to introduce 8-16 year olds to STEM and the wider world of engineering, science and technology

The Imagineering Foundation introduces children to the world of engineering, science and technology through fun, hands-on activities.

National Grid is a key partner of the Imagineering Foundation. We provide stands at the annual Imagineering Fairs, with a wide range of challenges for visiting children. We also sponsor the Imagineering website and many National Grid staff volunteer as tutors at Imagineering Clubs – after school clubs where pupils have fun making a series of working engineering models. These clubs are a great development opportunity for children, opening their eyes to the idea of a future career in STEM subjects.



An opportunity for National Grid Employees to introduce 8-16 year olds to STEM and the wider world of engineering, science and technology

We know the world of work can be a daunting one, so our Open House visits take the mystery out of the job. We welcome secondary schoolchildren about to decide on their GCSE options and A-level students with an eye on a career... and show them what we do.

They’ll take a look at the Control Centres where teams of Engineers gauge how much electricity we’ll need at half-time in a big match. Or they’ll visit a 400,000 volt substation or operational high-pressure gas site to see exactly how National Grid moves energy around the network to end up at your house.

It’s a great taster of what a professional, work-based environment looks like and allows children to meet our people keeping the energy infrastructure working. We’re confident the youngsters will share their passion and may soon follow in their boot-steps.