“I loved how they went into detail about the different careers and ways to get into Thames Water by either a degree or apprenticeship.”
“It was great learning about the processes involved in making water safe to drink and the different types of work in Thames Water.”
Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and wastewater company, supplying an average of 2.7 billion litres of water a day to 15 million customers across London and the Thames Valley. Despite having a workforce of thousands engaged in diverse roles, there is a misconception that they are ‘just an engineering company’. Instead, they are a STEM employer providing a huge range of opportunities.
The programme had to be broad enough to showcase the exciting technology and variety of job roles at Thames Water, yet in-depth enough to leave participants with genuine industry knowledge.
As with many STEM employers, engaging with a wider demographic, especially young women and students from minority ethnic backgrounds, was a key consideration. This was a chance to undertake work experience on a grander scale and to engage with hundreds of students from all across the UK.
The words ‘inspire’ and ‘exciting’ stood out, Thames Water telling us the programme had to change perceptions. They told us they wanted to “reach for the moon”, and wanted students to be inspired themselves and recommend Thames Water to their friends and classmates.
Working with Thames Water to understand their requirements, our Employer Tribe devised a series of on-demand modules that would build industry knowledge in an engaging way.
Students could complete the virtual experience in around 10 hours and at their own pace. The programme included live webinars – also available as on-demand modules – providing students the opportunity to ask questions to industry experts in a safe and friendly environment, alongside tasks to be completed based on newly acquired knowledge.
Modules had an intuitive flow, starting with an overview of Thames Water and the industry, moving into the water cycle and clean water treatment before a module on sustainability.
Further elements then looked at STEM and the use of cutting-edge technology to revolutionise water treatment – essential when 15 million people rely on you every day.
The programme we created also demonstrated how a major employer has roles that perhaps do not immediately come to mind – Thames Water developers built an award-winning app, while they also have communications and social media teams.
Having worked with STEM employers previously including Siemens UK, we were able to draw upon our vast database of students and match the work experience programme to potential participants from a diverse background with a stated interest in STEM careers.
Finally, the programme helped develop students’ core employability skills and gave them insight into career pathways, demonstrating the many routes into a career in STEM.
The work experience programme was designed for Years 10 to 13, 57% of the initial intake of 752 were female, with white and Asian backgrounds both accounting for 38% and 11% of the total number were black students. Almost a quarter were eligible for free school meals and 6% said they had special educational needs or disability.
Every respondent said that they had either excellent (64%) or good (36%) awareness of careers in the industry having undertaken the programme - compared to 60% being at least 'somewhat aware’ beforehand.
An impressive 70% said they were likely to consider a career in the industry, up from 43% who said so pre-programme. Just as importantly, 89% finished saying they felt confident about finding a job in future, a huge rise from 51% before starting.
The average rating for the programme among participants was 8.8/10.
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