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A call to REflect diversity in STEM

SUPPORT: Yewande Akinola at Reflect 2019

A NEW STEM Careers Programme was held in a drive to recruit more representatives from black and Ethnic Minority (BME) groups.

Launched on August 1st 2019, REflect – a partnership between the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) along with RS Components, showcased a number of state of the art technology to young people aged 18-25 in an industry where very few members of BME background are represented.

A recent audit on ethnicity facts and figures found that unemployment among black, Asian and other ethnic minorities is almost double that of white adults.

Additionally, only 24% of those employed in engineering roles come from a low socio-economic background according to the Social Mobility in Engineering Brief from Engineering.
The IET Diversity Inclusion Manager, Jo Foster, feels that more needs to be done to make the industry more reflective of the people in the country.

She said: “Engineering and technology is a fantastic career but more needs to be done to ensure that STEM is being promoted as a viable career path for everyone.

“Following this year’s launch event, we are aiming to make REflect an annual National Day and event. We know that the initial inspiring part is easy – but there must be a tangible follow up to keep the momentum going.”

As well as showcasing cutting edge technology, young people had the opportunity to network with some of the few figures from BAME backgrounds who have made it in the industry including engineer and innovator – Yewande Akinola, Director of Techsixtyfour Ltd and Sky Women in Tech Scholar – Colleen Wong and Terry Jervis who is the founder of Jervis Entertainment Media.

Isabella Mascarenhas, vice president of Grass Roots & Shining Stars at RS Components – one of the partners responsible for putting on the event, said: “Following the main event, delegates can sign up to a series of follow up activities and mentorship programmes to provide soft skills training, workshops and a careers fair. The ultimate goal is to offer employment opportunities to these young people to improve their future prospects.”

Akinola gave an inspiring speech to youngsters showing both interest and the potential to make it into the industry she currently works in.

Encouragingly she told them: “The key messages would be to believe in yourself, work hard, follow through, put yourself out there, ask questions, find the right people to network with and always remember that anything is possible.”

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