Guest Blog|In2scienceUK - an award winning charity looking to change the face of STEM
In 2020 the BIA is supporting the award winning charity In2scienceUK in their mission to diversify the science sector and give those with the fewest opportunities the chance to gain the experience, confidence, skills and networks to support their future career in science.
In2scienceUK works with 17 year olds in year 12 with an interest in the sciences but who are from disadvantaged backgrounds to give them opportunities to work alongside researchers and STEM professionals in exciting research projects. As part of the programme young people also gain support through workshops and skills days to develop their skills essential for success in the workplace.
The charity was started from humble beginnings in 2015 by Dr Rebecca Mckelvey with a few young people taking part in a work placement programme at UCL with researchers. Since then the charity has gone from strength to strength and in 2019 supported nearly 400 young people across the country in placements at universities, research centres and industry partners. This is their story and their ambitions for the future!
Why In2scienceUK’s mission matters
In2scienceUK’s mission is of crucial importance, to support young people to gain opportunities they need to succeed. Social mobility in the UK is lower than in many other countries in the developed world. For instance, less than 10% of life sciences professionals, 15% of academics and 6% of doctors are from working class backgrounds. Education is a key vehicle in improving social mobility, whether this be onto degrees or apprenticeships. All of the young people that take part in the In2scienceUK programme are from low income backgrounds and are recipients of free school meals, have parents with no higher education experience and live in areas in which progression to higher education is limited. With salaries 20% higher in STEM careers compared to other sectors, the In2scienceUK programme aims to provide young people with a route out of socioeconomic exclusion. In2scienceUK promotes social mobility, diversity and aims to ensure the STEM sector in Britain reflects the youth, passion and diversity of the UK as a whole.
The In2scienceUK work placement programme
During the In2scienceUK work-placement programme, young people are matched with local STEM professionals for a two-week work placement in which they gain an incredible insight into STEM careers and role models for life. The young people undertake real research and gain an unparalleled experience conducting experiments at the cutting edge of scientific research. For example, Jack, an In2scienceUK student in 2013 who now works in a leading bioscience company, stated how “the In2scienceUK programme gave me the competitive edge that has enabled me to succeed both at university and within my current position. I am the first in my family to go to university and I wish everyone could have the same experience I am so grateful to have had at In2scienceUK”.
As part of the In2scienceUK programme young people also attend workshops and skills days. These workshops provide young people with high-quality information, materials and guidance on essential professional skills. The young people receive support with CV writing, interview skills and application advice. These skills are of vital importance to the lives of every young person and are often what they lack most.
The In2scienceUK programme is hugely impactful with young people stating that they feel that ‘scientists and engineers are like them’ as well as ‘knowing a larger number of careers they can progress to’. In addition, 80% of participants were accepted into higher education and 46% enrolled into top universities as concluded independently by UCAS STROBE. This can be compared to the national average for young people who are recipients of free school meals which stands at just 11% being accepted into top universities.
How BIA members can get involved
In2scienceUK is passionate about partnering with organisations determined to make a positive difference in the lives of young people from low-income backgrounds. There are many ways to support In2scienceUK.
If your company has STEM placement opportunities and would like to host a student for a work placement, we would love to hear from you.
Alternatively, organisations can sponsor young people through the innovative In2scienceUK programme and receive case studies of the young people they support in recognition of their generous contribution. Sponsoring organisations can also get involved and deliver workshops and skills days to young people and educate them on career pathways and personal development.
If you would like to contribute to diversity, social mobility and inclusion in the STEM sector, please contact In2scienceUK and give a young person a brighter future today.