Youth charity The Prince’s Trust, global technology firm ARM and TV show Robot Wars teamed up to offer unemployed young people in Cambridge an insight into the world of robotics.
The Get Started with Robotics course forms part of The Prince’s Trust’s commitment to developing STEM skills among young people. As well as inspiring young people to learn about technology and engineering, the course helped them gain the confidence and skills to find work.
The programme focused on getting young people to think about how to build and control robots, culminating in a sci-fi style robot combat challenge. In true Robot Wars fashion, the youngsters worked in teams to battle for the title of champion.
In addition, participants were given help with CV writing, advice on how to apply for jobs and interview techniques. They will all get three months post-programme support to help them move into employment, further education or training.
Gary Chappel, aged 18, left school two years ago with a strong interest in engineering but hasn’t been able to find a job.
He commented, “I’d been spending so much time applying for jobs and not really getting anywhere. Then I saw an advert for The Prince’s Trust course and I thought it might help me. I learnt so much during the week, and it really inspired me to work in engineering. It is every kid’s dream to make robots! Now I’m focused on the future and achieving my goals.”
As a result of the programme, Chappelis now applying for apprenticeships in engineering and electrics. John Findlay, owner of Roaming Robots, the company behind Robot Wars who helped deliver the course, was so impressed by Chappel that he has offered him a volunteering role to help set up live shows.
Jennifer Duvalier, executive vice president of People at ARM,said: “Building a robot and pitching it against rival machines is a fun way of engaging young people and it might just ignite their passion for technology.
“Our high tech centres are all expanding and that’s opening up career opportunities for young people from all backgrounds. The Prince’s Trust course provides a taste for what is possible and by getting creative with coding and battling bots the students might be on the verge of a new and rewarding future.”
John O’Reilly, Central England Director for The Prince’s Trust said, “Thanks to support from organisations such as ARM, we are able to equip the next generation with the skills required to secure work and away from the frustration and misery of unemployment.”
Fifteen ARM people supported the delivery of the Cambridge course, including the development of a robotics programming session. One of ARM’s Graduate engineers also gave an inspirational talk about his career journey and current role at the company.
In 2013, The Prince’s Trust launched an education initiative aimed at inspiring and engaging young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The project is being run in partnership with the Science Museum and schools across the country and was launched with help from musician and philanthropist will.i.am.