• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

North East Connected

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Young Women Use The Railway To Access STEM Opportunities

A group of young women studying over 60 miles apart came together by rail on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to discover the roles available to women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).
On Tuesday 11th February students from Darlington College met with peers from Bradford studying at Shipley College, Keighley College and Parkside School Sixth Form to visit the Hitachi Rail plant at Newton Aycliffe.

The Students, studying a variety of subjects from Biology to Electrical Installation, were able to see first-hand the types of roles they could go into if they choose to follow a career in engineering.

The young women met female Hitachi staff representing roles including Design Engineer, Test Engineer, Marketing and Communications. The Hitachi staff gave the students an insight into their own personal journeys into their current job, what and where they studied, how long they have worked at Hitachi and what their jobs entail on a day to day basis.

The students then had a factory tour to see some of the trains that are currently being manufactured at Hitachi and were able to relate what they saw back to some of the content of their own courses.

Faaiza, a student from Shipley College commented “I was really impressed to find out the different types of jobs and opportunities available in rail and really enjoyed visiting Hitachi. I am now seriously considering a career as a train driver.”

Nina Harding, Communications Manager at Hitachi Rail, said: “It was fantastic to meet such an enthusiastic group of young women. As an industry, we all need to work together to try and improve the gender balance and this was a great way to showcase the exciting opportunities available for all in rail. Hopefully some of these students will become our rail engineers of the future.” 

Youmna Khan, Project Lead for Bradford Skills commented “Careers and Technical Education/Industrial Centres of Excellence is a great initiative that works in partnership with the employers to provide industry awareness to enable young people to make an informed decision. Initiatives like a visit to Hitachi provides young people with career awareness and opportunities within the rail industry and various routes and progressions available. We have had a successful visit and continue to develop further partnership working with Northern Rail.”

Claire Turner, Marketing and Engagement Manager at Darlington College added “These types of experiences are so valuable to our young people, so they not only learn about a particular industry, but get to live the experience. It is important for the students to understand the careers and opportunities that are on their doorstep and remove stereotypes about STEM industries, so more women are encouraged in to science, technology and engineering roles.”

The visit was part of the Women in STEM project (formally known as Women Who Wander), led by Community Rail Lancashire and Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership. The project works towards making the rail industry a more equal, diverse and inclusive place. More women are needed to bring their voices to rail, shape the future, and become employees and passengers. Women in STEM helps to engage women and girls in experiencing rail use and producing inspiring writing in a wide range of styles, expressing their views.  Examples of pieces written as part of this project will be added to the Women Who Wander webpage https://downtheline.org.uk/projects/women-who-wander/

The students from Bradford were representing some of the Industrial Centres of Excellence which are delivering the Careers and Technical Education initiative via Bradford Pathways. More information can be found at https://bradford.gov.uk/education-and-skills/training-and-development/careers-and-technical-education/

For more information on opportunities at Darlington College visit  www.darlington.ac.uk

Community Rail Lancashire and the Bishop Line Community Rail Partnership are working on the next Women in STEM project to take students from Tees Valley and County Durham by rail to visit the Hitachi train maintenance site in Doncaster later this year.

CRL and Bishop Line are grateful to LNER for providing the students travel on the East Coast Main Line and Northern for providing travel on the Bishop Line.