A new five-year school engagement programme has launched in Oxfordshire, which will see employers located at Milton Park develop local young people’s employability skills and engage students with careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics (STEAM).
The ‘Explore Milton Park’ programme is being funded by Milton Park, a leading science, technology and business community, which hosted the launch event at its state-of-the-art flexible workspace, the Bee House.
It has appointed Ahead Partnership, market-leaders in developing ESG solutions by creating unique business partnerships and programmes that connect young people to opportunity, to develop and deliver the programme.
Milton Park is the UK’s largest single ownership business community and home to over 250 companies, from startups to global organisations. The education programme will enable its occupiers to connect with 10-18-year-old students from local schools and colleges through a calendar of 12 different inspiring events and activities, including interview practice, careers panels, speed networking, ‘treks’ to visit different workplaces, work experience, employer-teacher workshops, video resources and primary school guest speakers.
The initiative aims to help students develop their confidence and improve their understanding of career opportunities available locally to them. Occupiers will be able to engage with future talent and help strengthen their workforce pipeline, with a particular focus on supporting young people from disadvantaged or under-represented backgrounds.
The programme will initially engage with secondary and further education students from Ridgeway Education Trust in 2023 – the multi-academy trust which oversees Didcot Girls’ School, St Birinus Boys’ School, Didcot Sixth Form and Sutton Courtenay CofE Primary School. Activities will take place both in-school and onsite at Milton Park, with expansion into more local schools to take place later in the year.
Veronica Reynolds, Sustainability & Community Manager at Milton Park, said: “It’s been brilliant to witness the successful launch event of ‘Explore Milton Park’ with lots of interest from Milton Park occupiers. The team has put an extensive amount of work into the organisation and vision for this programme that will bring real benefits to local schools and students.
“As a crucible of innovation and facilitator of pioneering scientific advancements, we’re passionate about inspiring the next generation of innovators and creators. We want to spark curiosity by enabling local students to witness first-hand the local engagement opportunities carried out by companies at the Park and learn from mentors who are leaders in their profession. We’re excited to offer this through ‘Explore Milton Park’.”
Stephanie Burras CBE, Founder and Chief Executive at Ahead Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to be working with our longstanding partner, MEPC – which looks after Milton Park – on a fantastic new initiative.
“Companies in the STEAM sector are on the look-out for young talent to drive forward the exciting innovations and technologies of the future. Tapping into the potential of local students and showcasing inspiring workplaces like Milton Park is a great way for young people to understand what it’s actually like to work in this field and inspire their interest in these career pathways.
“The focus of our initiatives is always on creating long-term impact and genuine positive change. Investing in ‘Explore Milton Park’ over the next five years to provide various ‘touch points’ between companies and schools will ensure that as many young people as possible can benefit and get as much experience from the programme as possible.
“We’ll be monitoring and reporting on measurable outcomes throughout this time, ensuring efforts are focused where they can make the biggest impact.”
An A-level student at Didcot Sixth Form, said: “I’m really looking forward to taking part in the ‘Explore Milton Park’ programme, which will allow me to speak to employers and gain a real insight into the exciting work they’re delivering at the Park.
“Even though Milton Park is on our doorstep, it can sometimes be challenging for us to fully understand the range of the roles and career opportunities and what goes on behind closed doors. However, gaining that genuine insight will really help to point me in the right direction and develop my understanding of which career route I want to go down.”
Stuart George, Careers Lead at Ridgeway Education Trust, said: “We’re excited to provide meaningful employee engagements for our students through ‘Explore Milton Park’, with a view to improving their confidence and their future potential in STEAM activities and careers.
“Many of our students will be applying for jobs at Milton Park in the near future and will become the workforce of tomorrow. Strengthening our students’ horizons of the exciting work already being delivered here is key.
“The students can’t wait to take part and we’re very grateful to MEPC Milton Park and Ahead Partnership for putting together this programme. We’re confident it will be a successful initiative which delivers real impact and inspiration for our students.”
Information about Milton Park’s local engagement work, including ‘Explore Milton Park’, can be found on its website, and updates from activities throughout the course of the programme will be shared on social media via #ExploreMiltonPark.