The Royal Academy of Engineering has today launched an ambitious engineering education programme in Blaenau Gwent and Merthyr Tydfil to deliver science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education support for students and teachers and make connections with industry to provide career guidance.

The Welsh Valleys has a long history of engineering and this project builds on that heritage, supporting the untapped engineering potential within local students to build a skills base for engineering companies in South Wales.

This partnership approach draws together pupils from primary and secondary schools, further education colleges, employers, government and other key stakeholders to inspire and encourage more young people to study (STEM) subjects in post-16 education. The programme will enrich the curriculum, stimulate interest, and improve student attainment outcomes by bringing real-world engineering practice into the student experience. The aim of the project is to encourage a diverse range of young people to progress towards the engineering roles of the future in local industry.

The Welsh Valleys Engineering Project will establish and run a network of primary and secondary school teachers capable of supporting each other and sharing good practice. Funding will support involvement in national and regional engineering programmes as well as the purchase of kit and equipment to enhance and enrich the delivery of the STEM curriculum in schools and colleges.  It will provide up to 4,000 STEM learning opportunities for young people each year. Students will also be able to apply for a bursary to support them during engineering-related A Levels or vocational/technical qualifications.

The project will work in close collaboration with local STEM providers Engineering Education Scheme Wales (STEM Cymru), See Science and other education and skills partners and will run for a minimum of five years. It is based on the template of successful Academy engineering education projects in Barrow-in-Furness, Stoke-on-Trent, and Lowestoft, Suffolk, which have delivered more than 100,000 STEM learning opportunities for young people since their launch. The Welsh Valleys project builds on this model and is the first such programme to include a bursary scheme that provides a clear and continuous pathway to local engineering careers through further education.

The project has been made possible by funding from the Panasonic Trust, which has committed to a minimum of five years of support. The Trust has worked in partnership with the Royal Academy to develop the programme, supported by staff working at Panasonic’s operations in Cardiff and Bracknell.

Lynda Mann, Head of Education Programmes at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“We are in the Welsh Valleys because this area is full of engineering potential for local students. We want to bring engineering to life for students, nurture a STEM-interested network across local schools, colleges and businesses, and point the way to engineering careers.

“This programme builds on tried and tested methods from projects in other areas of the country which, have resulted in significant increases in the numbers of students studying STEM subjects. We hope to achieve similar success here.”

Alun Davies, Member of the Welsh Assembly for Blaenau Gwent, said:

“It is important that we do all we can to support STEM learning in schools to ensure that pupils are given every opportunity to access good quality employment. We have seen the success of similar projects in Barrow-in-Furness, Stoke-on-Trent, and Lowestoft, Suffolk which have together provided more than 100,000 STEM learning opportunities for young people. We need to develop a strong skills base in Blaenau Gwent and across the Valleys, which can support new engineering companies investing in South Wales.

“Forging links between primary and secondary schools, further education colleges and partners in industry is important if we are to achieve this. I am hopeful that this project will provide the support needed to both pupils and staff to help develop some of our future engineers.”

Stephen Huntington OBE FREng, Chairman of the Panasonic Trust, said:

“The Panasonic Trust is delighted to have participated, together with the local Further Education Colleges, in developing this scheme with the Royal Academy of Engineering.  Earlier schemes elsewhere have demonstrated great success in increasing the study of STEM subjects within schools. We aim to build on this success in Wales by extending the encouragement of STEM subjects – leading to careers in engineering – through further and higher education, with the participation of local industry.

“Engineering requirements have changed over the decades. We are confident that the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project has the potential to develop a workforce with the skills required to meet these requirements.”

Notes for Editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession
  1. The Panasonic Trust. Originally established in 1984, the trust has received a total of £1million from Panasonic to help further the advancement of education and training in engineering in the UK. To date, this has been through a bursaries programme run by the Royal Academy of Engineering targeting post graduate qualifications in engineering. The establishment of the Welsh Valleys Engineering Project will become the focus of the Trust’s funding for the next five years.

For more information please contact:

Victoria Runcie at the Royal Academy of Engineering

T: 020 7766 0620

E:  Vicky Runcie