The Education Partnerships Award: BP

Highly Commended for Business in the Community’s Education Partnerships Award 2019. 

BP: Closing the STEM skills gap by inspiring students and helping teachers

  • More than 21% of young people that participated in a BP programme now aspire to a STEM career, up from 16%
  • £4.3 million programme investment over five years.
  • BP supports one in every 250 jobs in UK

The STEM skills gap in the UK is well documented. The socio-economic and gender make-up of those choosing science, technology, engineering and mathematics has largely remained unchanged for decades.
 
This is a problem BP knows only too well. The energy business supports about one in every 250 jobs in the UK, the majority of which rely on STEM skills.

“The world faces the dual challenge of meeting increasing energy demand while reducing carbon emissions. It will only be possible if current and future generations increase their engagement with STEM subjects. We developed the Enterprising Science programme to create societal benefit through systematically understanding and transforming STEM engagement at scale through schools, colleges, and informal settings.”

Peter Mather, Group Regional President, Europe and Head of Country, UK, BP plc

Its Enterprising Science programme, which ran in partnership with University College London, King’s College London and the Science Museum Group from 2013 to 2018, helped to inspire young people to value and choose STEM-based careers. More specifically, it was a groundbreaking research and development collaboration to improve post-16 participation in science, which saw the business invest £4.3 million over five years.
 
Based on research conducted in classrooms, the scheme created clear guidance for policymakers, as well as a new science capital teaching approach (SCTA) that teachers could use in school to encourage STEM uptake. It worked, with students experiencing SCTA having their ‘science capital’ – measuring people’s engagement and interaction with the subject – increased. The percentage now more likely to aspire to STEM careers jumped from 16% to 21.4%, with 42% now seeing science as relevant to them (up from 25%). This was particularly true in more disadvantaged communities where young people are traditionally less interested in STEM subjects at school.
 
BP says it will see long-term business value created by having a more diverse talent pool from which to recruit and better gender balance in the workforce. The Enterprising Science scheme also helped to boost cross-department collaboration.

The information in this impact story has been supplied by BP.