Generation STEM Work Experience

CSW Group’s “Generation STEM” programme is focused on helping pupils to find STEM-related work experience, and support them to get the most out of the experience. It begins with a whole-year group Work Experience Preparation day for all Year 10s, which helps them to build pupils’ motivation for undertaking a placement and understand how to ensure it is meaningful. Employers are partners in delivering these sessions. After this universal activity, CSW works in more depth with around 15 students per school. These will be young people who could benefit from work experience in STEM-relevant roles (not necessarily at STEM organisations), but who might otherwise not find such an opportunity. These will work with CSW to apply for opportunities, and have an interview with a real employer. Around 5 students per school will go onto undertake a placement with these employers, and the others will be signposted to other opportunities. Following the placements, the pupils and the employers will discuss the experience with CSW, providing an opportunity for feedback and development.

Why are we funding it?

This project is being funded as part of a partnership between EEF, the Careers and Enterprise Company and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Work experience placements are a common activity, and there is formative evidence that it can have a positive impact on employability skills, motivation in education, career-decision making and knowledge of the world of work.However, the evidence base is relatively weak with few robust studies. This provides an opportunity to test a programme that does not begin and end with a placement, but instead prepares students and employers, maximising the impact of the experience.

How are we evaluating it?

A team from NFER, led by Ben Styles, has been appointed to undertake the evaluation. It will be a school-level randomised controlled efficacy trial.

CSW will recruit 130 schools across the South West who will identify suitable target pupils. They will be randomly allocated to intervention or control conditions. Intervention schools will then participate in the Work Experience Preparation day for all Year 10s in early 2018. The target 15 pupils will then apply for and be interviewed for a STEM-related role, early in the spring term. Those not offered a placement by the interviewing employers will be directed towards other opportunities. Placements will happen in the summer term, with a post-placement debrief. Control schools will continue with their usual work experience activities and be compensated for their involvement with the research.

Target pupils in both groups of schools will be assessed at the beginning of Year 11, on attitudes to STEM careers and related measures. The Science and Maths GCSEs of target pupils, taken in Summer 2019, will be analysed, as well as their post-16 subject choices.

An accompanying implementation and process evaluation will assess the quality of the intervention and its ability to be delivered with fidelity.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Autumn 2021.