GE Aviation Wales – Maths Mentoring Programme

The NPTC Group of Colleges Building Stronger Communities Award, Winner 2016

GE Aviation Wales is working with two local schools to provide mentoring support for pupils who are in danger of failing GCSE maths. The jet engineering firm is proving that maths doesn’t have to be rocket science.

Good for business

  • The programme has helped to maintain a talent pipeline of qualified young people from which GE can recruit.
  • GE Wales’ employees report feeling more engaged with the firm, following the programme.

Good for society

  • The Maths Mentoring Programme is helping rescue young people who are in danger of failing maths.
  • Having a maths degree vastly improves a young person’s chances of finding employment. A glut of engineer vacancies are expected in coming years.

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Overview

GE Wales employees are working in partnership with two local senior schools, Pontypridd High School and Cardinal Newman, to run weekly after-school maths mentoring workshops. The sessions allow students, who are predicted a GCSE grade D or below, to receive one-to-one mentoring to improve their understanding of key mathematic principles in preparation for their final exams.

On average, 60 GCSE students attend each weekly workshop (30 from Pontypridd High School, 30 from Cardinal Newman).

The UK will need to fill 1.82 million engineering vacancies between 2012 and 2022, according to Engineering UK. However, there is currently an annual shortage of 55,000 skilled workers within the UK. By enhancing students’ skills in core subjects such as Mathematics, GE Aviation Wales aims to lower the UK skills gap and develop a talent pipeline to ensure the sustainability of the workforce in both the UK and Wales.

To ensure sustainable business growth GE Wales needs to recruit the right people, trained with the right skills. The Maths Mentoring Programme is helping make sure young people come onto the job market with the right skills.

GE specialises in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of a range of commercial jet engines. The company employs a highly skilled workforce of over 1,200 people with over 90 customers worldwide, including Emirates, easyJet and British Airways.

Background

As an anchor company in South Wales, GE Aviation Wales prides itself on providing career opportunities for talented individuals. The company is extremely proud of its educational partnerships and endeavours to recruit students from the local area as apprentices, interns and graduate trainees. GE Aviation’s standard entry requirements require a minimum grade C in GCSE Mathematics, with this increased to a GCSE grade B for those applying to the engineering apprenticeship. 

By targeting students who are predicted a low GCSE grade, GE Aviation Wales employees are able to work with students to improve their grades to a C or above and enable students to identify their true potential and the opportunities available to them in science, technology, engineering and maths through engagement with GE employees.

Volunteering

GE Aviation Wales uses its employees to deliver the programme. By volunteering each week, the programme is the perfect opportunity to develop employees across all areas of the business and improve communication and mentoring skills, time keeping, confidence and the opportunity to work and network with employees that they might not usually interact with.

GE Aviation Wales runs over 25 volunteering projects in the local community each year and the maths mentoring programme is deemed one the company’s most prestigious and long-standing initiatives by the business. GE Aviation Wales employees contribute, on average, 1,600 hours each year to educational volunteering projects. With 300 hours dedicated to maths mentoring, almost 20% of total volunteering hours are dedicated to the project.

Wales skills gap

In 2013, it was reported that Wales had fallen behind the rest of the UK significantly in reading, maths and science for the third time. This statistic, combined with a national skills shortage, emphasised the importance of the maths mentoring programme in South Wales.

Welsh results for GCSE mathematics were still vastly behind the national average in 2015, with just 47.5% of pupils achieving A*-C compared to the national average of 63.3%. The maths mentoring programme aims to address this trend and help bridge the gap, bringing Welsh pupils up to the standard of their peers in other areas of the UK. 

What GE Aviation Wales' Managing Director said:

“GE’s responsibility, as one of the largest employers in Wales, goes beyond the gates of its facility. We believe that one of the key measures of business success depends on the health and sustainability of its local community. At GE Aviation Wales, we align our business strategy to meet societal needs, while minimising environmental impact and advancing social development. We are extremely proud of our Maths Mentoring Programme. It is through programmes like this that we can enhance local students’ capabilities and develop a robust skill set, helping to create a better future for generations to come and boosting Wales’ reputation as a key place to trade.” - La-Chun Lindsay, Managing Director, GE Aviation Wales

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