New STEM event targets ethnic minorities

People from BAME (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic) and low socioeconomic backgrounds are the target of a new STEM careers programme that had its first event last week.   

(Credit: IET)

Launched on August 1, 2019 REflect is a collaboration between the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) and RS Components. The event – set to become an annual fixture - showcased cutting edge technology to young people aged 18-25 and highlighted exciting career opportunities in STEM that they may not have had access to before.

“Engineering and technology is a fantastic career but more needs to be done to ensure that STEM is being promoted as a viable career path for everyone,” said Jo Foster, Diversity and Inclusion Manager at the IET.

“Following this year’s launch event, we are aiming to make REflect an annual National Day and event. We know that the initial inspiring part is easy – but there must be a tangible follow up to keep the momentum going.”

According to the Social Mobility in Engineering Brief from EngineeringUK, just 24 per cent of those working in engineering come from low socio-economic backgrounds. The ethnicity Facts and Figures audit found that unemployment among black, Asian and other ethnic minorities is almost double that of white British adults.

Part of REflect’s remit was to showcase role models from across the socioeconomic and ethnic spectrum. Speakers included engineer and innovator Yewande Akinola, Terry Jervis, founder of Jervis Entertainment Media and Colleen Wong, founder/director of Techsixtyfour Ltd and Sky Women in Tech scholar. There are now plans to build out the REflect programme in  the wake of the successful launch.

“Following the main event, delegates can sign up to a series of follow up activities and mentorship programmes to provide soft skills training, workshops and a careers fair,” said Isabella Mascarenhas, vice president, Grass Roots & Shining Stars at RS Components.

“The ultimate goal is to offer employment opportunities to these young people to improve their future prospects.”