CUTTING-edge technology helped students from secondary schools in Rugby and Coventry learn about careers in the construction, engineering and rail industry at an educational taster day.
Virtual reality, robotics and drone technology helped introduce students from Rugby Free Secondary School, Avon Valley School, Westwood Academy and Blue Coat School to the range of careers available.
Rugby College teamed up with the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce and the National College for High Speed Rail to host the event, during which students heard from industry experts and employers.
The day started with presentations from Group Vice Principal for Curriculum at Warwickshire College Group Neil Coker, who is also Director of Rugby College, along with Phil Warwick from the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB), Eva Fryc from STEM Learning UK, and Neil Eagers from the National Skills Academy.
The students then got their hands on some high-tech gadgets during in interactive workshops and demonstrations hosted by Comau, BAM Construction, HS2, Balfour Beatty Vinci, Laing Murphy, Effiage Kier and more.
They also went on a tour of the college and spoke to some of the region’s employers such as Deeley Construction, Colas Rail, Impact Ariel and Stepnell.
Phil Kerry, assistant head at Rugby Free Secondary School, came along with 13 students from Year 8.
He said: “It’s been a really interesting day for pupils with the hands-on nature of the workshops and problem-solving tasks.
“I’ve also learnt a lot and had my eyes opened to the wide variety of local jobs available in these sectors.”
Rugby Free student Tom Edwards, 12, said: “I’ve seen how robotics and computing can be used to make tasks simpler in construction using technologies such as virtual reality. I particularly liked seeing how drones are used in engineering projects to do surveys.
“It’s been a great day and has shown me that there are thousands of jobs available in these areas.”
Neil Coker said the aim of the day was to challenge perceptions that young people might have regarding careers within these industries.
He said: “The engineering sector is of vital importance to the UK, yet there is a huge shortfall in skilled workers and a demand for people with engineering skills within the region.
“The key to addressing the future demand for engineers is encouraging young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths subjects and pursue engineering and construction-related qualifications.”
Louise Bennett, chief executive of Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said: “It is absolutely vital that we, as businesses, do everything we can to support young people in understanding the world of work and giving them as much information on the opportunities available in our local economy.
“Companies across Coventry and Warwickshire are ready to offer their experience and expertise to our young people because they will be our future workforce.”