2018 Year of Engineering: Year of STEM Careers
When 2018 was announced as the UK government’s ‘Year of Engineering’, SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business wanted to get involved immediately. I spoke to Katie Cockerton, Talent Attraction Specialist at the company to find out how the company is innovating to tackle the engineering skills shortage and build the talent pipeline of 10 and 20 years’ time.
Atkins is the UK’s largest engineering consultancy and part of one of the world’s leaders in this space so of course they have a responsibility to lead the way in STEM careers and in their 2018 campaign they felt they should aim to educate people from as young as 7. Personally, I believe a lot more can be done to introduce kids to STEM subjects. Yes, you need to study to pass these subjects but the range of exciting career opportunities in wait is the reward that I believe young people don’t understand. The message isn’t getting through the way it should.
Atkins has long focused their recruitment activities on communicating with school leavers and undergraduates but they felt that in 2018 they’d make a special effort to talk to those earlier in their education. Decisions people make from as young as 7 can impact on their future career opportunities. This was a brand new and of course very rewarding challenge for the team.
Katie and her colleague Ellie Harte quickly established they were targeting two audiences; the young people as well as their parents, teachers and career advisors.
Talking to the young people would be undertaken primarily offline and to the parents, teachers and career advisors would be online.
The central focus of the campaign was a brilliant 2:20 video called ‘Engine Ears’. Engine Ears makes use of captivating animation, of course to appeal to young people, as well as extremely catchy music and lots of jokes which appeal to kids. “We don’t need more engine eyes…. We need engineers.”
So, this was a major success. Across all channels, the video has generated over 300,000 views and likely many more as groups watched together in classrooms. I’m really interested that over 200,000 of the views were on Facebook. When I asked Katie about this, she explained that the tone of the message was, “show this to your kids,” so really targeting parents first.
In addition to the brilliant video, Atkins operates a strong STEM ambassador network with over 250 people volunteering to represent the company and STEM careers in schools, at The Big Bang Fair and other suitable engagement events.
When the STEM ambassadors go into schools they introduce the kids to a ‘STEM Pack’ which includes 16 activities relating to a theme in the Engine Ears video and presents engineering in a fun and inspiring way. The company offers state-of-the-art careers in Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation and many other high-tech disciplines.
Specifically regarding social media, the Government ran a monthly theme during The Year of Engineering and Atkins responded by arranging Instagram take-overs by people in the business undertaking work relating to the monthly theme. For example, during ‘sport’ month, the London 2012 accessibility advisor from Atkins took over the company’s Instagram for 2 days.
Finally, Katie touched on an issue I don’t see disappearing; hiring managers often don’t realise how interesting their work and they personally are to potential candidates. Yes they might need some guidance (in this case, Katie and Ellie held briefing calls with the STEM ambassadors throughout the year) but encouraging them to contextualise their work and express their own personalities is a big benefit. I call it ‘talent brand’ and it’s a growing theme.
Congratulations to Katie, Ellie and Atkins on winning the RAD Award for Best Use of Single Video earlier this month.
Adam Gordon is CEO and Co-founder at Candidate.ID, talent pipeline automation.