Coachlines - November 2023

27.11.23 Assistant Eric Wallbank

Science Museum Skills Fair 2023

Some of you may recall that last year, for the first time, The Coachmakers took part in the Science Museum Skills Fair, running a stand where we had groups of school students getting hands-on with practical activities.

This year, the Museum’s ask was different: would we take part in a Q&A session with a group of students – around 75 – to answer questions about our careers? That’s how Charity Committee Chair Eric Wallbank found himself in front of a large group of 14- to 15-year-olds answering questions about careers in engineering at the Science Museum on 20th November.

This was on a panel along with three somewhat younger folks employed by the National Grid, Urenco (a supplier to the nuclear industry), and SIG (a construction company), comprising a mix of those with degrees and those with an apprenticeship. The questions started with ‘are you doing what your 16-year-old self imagined you would do?’.

Other questions followed, such as ‘what is the money like?’; ‘what if you don’t get on with the people you work with?’ ‘What was your job interview like?’ In between those question it was possible to give a “politician’s answer” to bring out how interesting, varied and rewarding an engineering career might be.

This sort of engagement between industry and students wasn’t around when many of us were at school. If it had, maybe more young people would have taken engineering as a career. Hopefully, some of the students at the Skills Fair came away slightly better informed.

We know from many sources that for someone to pursue STEM subjects in further education, and into a career, involves several ‘touch points’, not just one. Just maybe, for some of those there, the day at the Science Museum was one of those inputs.