An impact report has revealed that nearly 200 students from North East Derbyshire’s schools got a hands-on taste of manufacturing and engineering careers during the Made in Chesterfield festival in November last year.
Businesses, teachers and pupils have all praised the Made in Chesterfield initiative.
Nick McGowan, assistant headteacher a teacher at Whittington Green School which visited Woodhead Construction’s enterprise centre site, said: “We’ve been teaching construction in the school for the last 15 years and one thing we have always struggled with is access to site so the visit was absolutely brilliant. The visit opened the student’s horizons to the jobs and opportunities within the construction sector.”
In a review of the month-long annual festival undertaken by Direct Education Business Partnership (DEBP) which coordinated Made in Chesterfield in conjunction with Destination Chesterfield, it also found that there was no demand for virtual school visits, indicating that schools are keen to re-engage face-to-face with the business community despite the pandemic.
Ivan Fomin, Managing Director of MSE Hiller and Destination Chesterfield’s board member responsible for manufacturing and engineering in the borough, said: “The uptake of the physical workplace tours by schools for Made in Chesterfield was very encouraging given the current climate of uncertainty. There is a very real appetite amongst schools to give young people the widest exposure to careers and job opportunities.”
He added: “It is so important that we highlight the local career and job opportunities to young people as they are an intrinsic part of Chesterfield’s growth ambitions.”
Virtual workplace tours were launched last year amidst the pandemic, however with Covid restrictions eased physical workplace tours were reintroduced for 2021.
Pupils from Whittington Green School, Springwell Community College, St Mary’s Catholic High School, The Bolsover School, Shirebrook Academy and Heritage Academy all took part in visits to local engineering and manufacturing businesses, including Aztec Oils, Woodhead Construction, CBE+, Penny Hydraulics, Superior Wellness, Morgan Sindall, Weightron Bilanciai, MSE Hiller and United Cast Bar.
Carol Claydon, Head of HR at Superior Wellness which hosted students from Springwell Community College, said: “The tour organised by Made in Chesterfield was a fantastic opportunity for our business. Our team members thoroughly enjoyed explaining more about the business, their roles and their work experience to the students. It was brilliant to see how inspired the students were and I think it opened their eyes to the various career opportunities within the local area.
“The campaign is a fantastic way to inspire the next generation and hopefully showcase the different sectors and opportunities available within the town of Chesterfield.”
Ben Jones, Project Manager at Weightron Bilanciai which hosted students from Bolsover School added: “Hopefully we have inspired young people to be interested in what they want to do as a career so they can start thinking ahead now to what they should be studying and also whether they want to go to university or follow the apprenticeship route.”
Charlie Goodwin, Projects Officer at DEBP who compiled the report commented: “We are so grateful to the many businesses who got involved with Made in Chesterfield and worked with us to make it a success in 2021. We appreciate that everyone continues to experience challenging times, however the feedback from those who participated has demonstrated the value in providing meaningful insights into the working world and the role this initiative has in inspiring future employees.”
Launched originally in 2013, the annual Made in Chesterfield campaign, has since introduced thousands of young people across North East Derbyshire to the possibility of a career in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) sector.
The hands-on campaign aims to bridge the careers information gap between education and industry by giving schools and pupils access to workplace tours, a range of careers videos and the MyFuture virtual careers fair.
Made in Chesterfield 2021 was made possible thanks to funding and support from The Chesterfield College Group, Chesterfield Borough Council, D2N2 LEP and Careers and Enterprise Company, Derbyshire North Career Hub, MSE Hiller, United Cast Bar Ltd and NatWest.
Emily Carter, Operational Careers Hub Lead at D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership added: “We are ever grateful to our cornerstone employers and local business partners for supporting opportunities such as the Made in Chesterfield open doors programmes, supporting young people’s career awareness and aspirations, again this year despite the challenges still faced by industry.
“D2N2 Careers Hub is excited to fund the expansion of this successful model to bring more open doors programmes to young people across the wider D2N2 region during the rest of the 2021-22 academic year.”
Julie Richards, Principal and Chief Executive of the Chesterfield College Group said: “I am delighted to hear that once again the Made in Chesterfield initiative has been a great success. We are proud to support the programme of activities which take place to connect the future workforce with local employers. It is very encouraging to hear how so many schools and employers benefited. It is critical we excite and educate the next generation to understand the fantastic career opportunities for engineering and manufacturing in Chesterfield to build the workforce for the future and secure local economic growth.”
A number of the businesses involved in the Made in Chesterfield campaign are keen to continue to work with schools throughout the year. If your school would like to arrange a workplace visit, please contact DEBP on 01246 212 535.