Science meets speed dating for innovative careers event

Science and speed dating have been combined in an innovative experiment to bring together North East companies with employees of the future.

Almost 500 students from schools, colleges and apprenticeship providers across Newcastle had a chance to come face-to-face with potential employers and educational establishments at the Glow conference organised by Newcastle Science City.

Big name employers including Nissan, BAE systems and PricewaterhouseCoopers were among the companies which seized the opportunity to showcase their work and meet the innovators of the future – students aged 16-19 who are all currently studying science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects.

Karen Marshall of Newcastle Science City said: “The idea for the conference grew from discussions with employers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths who felt the more conventional careers events for 14-16 year-olds were not enabling them to talk directly to a captive audience. They thought it would be of great benefit to bring together STEM students with STEM employers.

“Much is already done within schools to encourage young people to study STEM subjects and this event helps demonstrate how those studies can be continued and the wide range of exciting careers this can lead to. It’s been a huge success.”

Blue Peter presenter Steve Mould compared the event, which was held at the Gosforth Marriott Hotel. Students had a chance to make informal introductions to a wide range of employers and educational institutions during a networking session and learned more in-depth information about particular areas of interest during a series of workshops.

Ciara McNamara, aged 17, of Sacred Heart High School in Fenham, Newcastle, was among the students exploring career options.

She said: “I’d love a job in automotive engineering. I’ve always been really interested in cars and I’d like to develop a deeper understanding of the mechanics behind them and how science can make them more efficient and environmentally friendly.

“This event is brilliant because it has brought everyone together under one roof and there are really interesting companies to meet. It’s such a good opportunity to be able to talk to employers face-to-face and ask questions.”

Alix Borthwick of NHS North East said: “The young people we have had the pleasure of meeting today have had a great attitude towards exploring their career options. They have been incredibly enthusiastic and interested in what we have to tell them and we have been very impressed by how self-aware and self-assured they are.

“In the NHS we need a constant flow of talented young people to create a sustainable workforce and it’s clear there are a lot of superb potential employees here today.”