Enhancing student employability skills through partnership working outreach; the University of Northampton approach

A paper has recently been present at HEA STEM Annual Teaching and Learning Conference 2013: Enhancing the STEM Student Journey, University of Edinburgh, 30th April-1st May 2014

Enhancing student employability skills through partnership working in STEM outreach; the University of Northampton approach.
John Sinclair*, Stuart Allen†, Linda Davis, Trish Goodchild, Julie Messenger#, Scott Turner

University of Northampton, St George’s Avenue, Northampton, NN3 3AF.
†University of Northampton, Boughton Green Road, Northampton.  NN2 7AL.
# Leicester Educational Business Company, Ashcroft House, Ervington Court,  Meridian Business Park. Leicester LE19 1WL
*author for correspondence

For over a decade, University of Northampton staff and students have delivered successful STEM outreach activities, master classes and co-working opportunities to learners in schools and FE colleges.  In addition, the University works with the local STEMNET contract holder to gain national recognition for staff and students STEM Ambassadors and recognises STEM Ambassadors through awards (staff and student) as part of its annual celebration of volunteer achievement.  Both developments derive from a culture of empowering students as partners and enhancing the student journey.

The University has developed a co-ordinated programme of training and events to empower students and staff to engage with school and community outreach.  A cross-University STEM Steering Group (SSG) which features both management and grass roots-level representation from the across the University (Science and Technology, Health, Education, the Arts and its Centre for Employability and Engagement) manages the activities, including recruiting representation from the student body.  As such, SSG is uniquely well-placed to champion STEM activities across the University and to make these available to the wider community.  Local schools are able to access inspirational science activities, whilst University students gain employability-related skills in leadership, communication, project-delivery and self-motivation and staff gain valuable CPD.  Students also identify more strongly with the University.  The total package plays a major role in contributing to University aspirations in widening participation and is hugely popular with participants.  This paper will outline the project and will showcase the positive enhancements which it offers to University of Northampton students and school participants.