Project: Foundation for Jobs: Modus and Darlington Borough Council
Amount awarded: £25,000
Timing: May 2016 to April 2017


  • Engage 15 North East engineering companies from a wide range of engineering disciplines from Darlington and its surrounding areas in the design and management of the Foundation for Jobs programme
  • Run eight core engineering based employability activities on eight occasions (Ingenious Engineering, Suspension Bridge Building, Subsea Engineering, Hovercraft building event and Engineering visits), including:
    • CPD for teachers relevant to skills gaps in local engineering sector
    • School based initiatives promoting engineering as one of Darlington’s growth sectors
    • Extra-curricular activities to develop engineering, employability and enterprise skills
  • Engage 625 young people in Foundation for Jobs activities related to engineering. This activity will be targeted at two Sixth Form Colleges all eight secondary schools and eight primary schools in Darlington
  • Support the Continued Professional Development of 45 engineers (from subsea, civil, mechanical, design, chemical, Aeronautical, electrical and biomedical) by providing them with opportunities to deliver Foundation for Jobs activities that will enhance their communication and engagement skills


The project recruited 47 engineers 19 of which were female and who took part in the design and delivery of the activities. 900 college, secondary and primary aged children from the Darlington area took part in a variety of engineering related events including hovercraft building and subsea engineering.

The project

The Northern Echo, Darlington Borough Council and the Darlington Partnership developed Foundation for Jobs (FFJ) in 2012 to deliver business-led activities for young people that would raise their awareness of opportunities within local key employment sectors, create positive perceptions of these opportunities, raise their aspirations and bridge the skills gap by encouraging more of them to train at a higher level, providing them with the best pathways, expectations and prospects for their chosen career. As part of this work, in 2016 Ingenious funding supported the delivery of 12 activities to 755 college, secondary and primary aged children from 15 schools that focused specifically on engineering, one of Darlington Borough’s key employment sectors. Events included hovercraft building, bioengineering, subsea engineering and women in engineering coinciding with International Women in Engineering Day.

47 engineers were recruited to take part in the design and delivery of these events from 19 local employers from an array of engineering disciplines including civil, teaching, manufacturing, chemical, mechanical, electronic, aerospace, environment and medical engineering fields with a view to supporting their continuous professional development and building new and stronger links between the workplace and the classroom.


Engineers reported improved communication, presentation, team working, problem solving and leadership skills. They particularly enjoyed talking to young people directly about their studies and ambitions for the future as well as promoting their chosen career in engineering to them. Many of them were more interested in taking part in public engagement activities and would recommend participating in FFJ events to a friend. 

“I most enjoyed speaking to young girls about engineering and seeing how enthusiastic some of them are.”

Amy, Engineer

The events helped to increase the students’ understanding of the sector and the variety of opportunities within it - 94.51% of secondary students felt they knew more about the kind of things engineers do after participating in a FFJ event. The women in engineering event demonstrated to the students that engineering can be a career option for anyone, regardless of gender. Many also reported improved communication, problem solving, presentation skills and team working skills.

“I discovered that there’s a lot more job opportunities, and I thought engineering was just fixing engines.”

Daniel, student


When working with companies, match what they are trying to achieve with what your audiences need and design your activities to meet the aspirations of both. Make it as easy as possible for them to get involved, for example, by making all the arrangements around the events so that they just need to send their staff on the day.

To ensure that participants complete the evaluation forms fit a break in between the midway and three quarter point of the sessions to ensure all pupils complete the evaluation on the day.

Make it an enjoyable experience for both sides. The aim is to engage the public, and the engineers can’t do that successfully if they feel uncomfortable. Work with them to design an individual delivery method that works best for them but still meets the aims of the project - some people are great in one to one situations with the young people but uncomfortable speaking to large groups so tailor activities to suit the engineers you are working with. It is also important to work with the engineers to design the events combining their skills and knowledge with your own knowledge of what works with the target audience.

Next steps

Foundation for Jobs has secured additional funding to deliver a larger programme across the Tees Valley incorporating additional key employment sectors to Darlington. As part of this wider programme, a number of the activities delivered through the Foundation for Jobs programme in 2016/2017 with the support of Ingenious funding will continue in 2017/2018. Hovercraft building, bio-engineering, subsea engineering, Women in Engineering and Ingenious Engineering are all scheduled to take place again between June 2017 and June 2018. These events in particular were received well by students, teachers and engineers alike and reflect the continued need to raise skills, promote Darlington’s key employment sectors and continue to reduce the number of young classed as not in employment, education or training.


More information can be found on the Foundation for Jobs website.