Camden Council leader urges more businesses to back careers scheme that is helping youngsters to ‘step forward and thrive’

Camden leader Georgia Gould with London Mayor Sadiq Khan at the STEAM event. Photograph: Camden Council

Businesses are being asked to get behind a plan to give young people in Camden the skills and opportunities to go full steam ahead in their careers.

The STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics – partnership started five years ago and boosts the chances for students to find work in the technology, scientific and creative sectors.

It is now expanding with an ambitious strategy to open the doors of industry to the employees of the future.

Camden Council leader Georgia Gould is encouraging companies to offer work experience, mentoring and apprenticeships or ask their staff to become ambassadors, helping with mock interviews and breaking down barriers.

Speaking at the launch inside Google’s offices at the transformed business area around St Pancras, Cllr Gould said: “I speak to some young people who feel like they’re in an island of poverty between glass.”

She said the STEAM partnership gives young people the chance to find out what goes on in those glass buildings in Camden and one day get a job in one.

Through the programme, children in Torriano Primary School developed a coding device to tell them when plants needed watering, while others worked with fashion house Ted Baker to design their own trainers.

Gould said the experiences meant that “young people who were a bit reserved were stepping forward and thriving”.

She added: “When our businesses open their doors to young people they get so much more in terms of creativity and new perspectives.”

Dinah Caine, chair of Camden STEAM, said: “This is a pivotal moment for us. The partnership was born from a conviction that young people growing up in Camden, regardless of background, should have access to the very best opportunities in the world-leading sectors on their doorstep and that these employers and institutions have a pipeline of diverse local talent.

“This new strategy sets out our vision for close partnerships between employers, educators and young people, working together for a future where our scientific, creative and digital industries continue to innovate and flourish, providing opportunities for Camden’s young people to have fulfilling careers.”

The scheme has brought together 50 employers who have offered 450 work experience placements for Year 12 students, recruited 200 ambassadors, and created a teacher network at 35 schools.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “When we allow our children to discover, explore and create, we all benefit.”

Parliament Hill school headteacher Sarah Creasey said STEAM is “genuinely transformative”.

She added: “It’s all about providing them with really powerful role models.”

Year 13 student Irfath Islam said the mentoring she received “really introduced us to what happens after school in work”.

Regent High School pupils Tayyeb Chowdhury and Abdirahman Abdullahi explained how their time spent at Google’s offices and with artificial intelligence firm DeepMind opened their eyes to opportunities.

“We saw people who had so much success and worked hard to get their jobs,” said Tayyeb.

“It broke down barriers,” said Abdirahman. “Work experience is necessary for us to get jobs.”

Amy Brown and Anna Simpson from Google’s creative team said they wanted work experience to give students a “real-world challenge”.

Pupils were asked to design a high street that would be useful to their community.

“You saw them blossom,” said Simpson. “We encourage our mentors to tell their stories. Sometimes people come to their jobs by a really circuitous route. There’s lots of ways forward. It’s inspiring them and building them up – it’s really part of the idea.”

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