Prize-winning Catholic student gets the VIP treatment at hi-tech London power facility

A prize-winning Catholic school student has been given a VIP tour of one of London’s state-of-the-art power facilities.

Merve Demirci, from Our Lady’s Catholic High School in Hackney joined Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London and Skills lead, and eight other prize-winning students at National Grid’s London Power Tunnels (LPT), a £1bn project to rewire South London, after they took part in a skills programme and virtual work experience week alongside more than 200 young people earlier this year.

The Deputy Mayor met the group of Year 12 and 13 students from schools across London at London Power Tunnels New Cross site. The group had the opportunity to tour the site and go underground to the base of the tunnel shaft as part of their prize for being highly commended for their coursework on net zero and smart cities.

The virtual work experience initiative ran during lockdown and focussed on developing employability skills and provided an unrivalled insight into the energy sector. Students enjoyed a mix of live sessions with learning materials, digital mentor sessions, live Q&As, recorded seminars, written modules and quizzes.

The energy industry needs to fill 400,000 roles by 2050 if the UK is to reach its net zero target. To support this, National Grid launched a pioneering five-year STEM and careers outreach programme in October last year to work with 100,000 secondary school pupils in some of the capital’s most deprived areas. The initiative, which is being delivered in partnership with social enterprise, MyKindaFuture, has already benefited 19,000 students in its first year through a range of activities and mentoring programmes.

Zac Richardson, Director of New Infrastructure for National Grid said: “Since National Grid began the partnership with My Kinda Future, thousands of young people have already had the opportunity to learn more about National Grid, the energy industry and how we need them to make net zero happen.

“I’ve been so impressed with the skills and passion of everyone who has taken part, it’s been great to meet the students and see them experiencing what it’s like to work on a £1bn engineering project. We hope our initiative continues to make a real impact, sparking enthusiasm for STEM subjects and paving the way for careers in STEM.”

Merve Demirci said the program “took me beyond my AS syllabus and broadened my knowledge in a more professional setting. With the information I learned, opportunities that I would have otherwise found inaccessible to me have become my stepping stones”.

“Programmes such as these give people like me an equal footing to those with greater social mobility, and it is also these programs that fight to reduce the growing inequalities in educational resources between social classes in the UK, which is why they are so important,” Merve added.

Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning, Regeneration and Skills said: “It was a pleasure to be invited to LPT today and meet some of the amazing young Londoners that have benefitted from National Grid’s careers outreach programme.

“The Mayor and I are committed to providing young people in London with access to high-quality careers education to ensure all young Londoners can make informed choices about their futures and are aware of all the opportunities available to them, and we will be launching our Career Hubs programme later this year. The partnership between National Grid and MyKindaFuture is an excellent example of how organisations can help introduce young people to careers in the energy and technology sectors and it’s great that they have already supported over 19,000 students in the past year. More employers like National Grid are needed to help bring the workplace to the classroom.”

Will Akerman, MD and Founder of MyKindaFuture, the UK’s leading underrepresented talent specialist, commented on the initiative’s success: “Being involved in National Grid’s work experience programme has been a fantastic experience for all of us at MyKindaFuture. Not only has it been a huge success, but it has given underrepresented young people an opportunity that they would never have been able to get without this support. Further to this, the top ten submissions are absolutely phenomenal. This is one example of the kind of achievements that can come from a purposeful work experience project. With this being a five-year programme, the opportunities for young people in the area are boundless”.

Visit: www.londonpowertunnels.co.uk for more information.

SCHOOL: https://www.ourladys.hackney.sch.uk

Pictured: (L-R) Jules Pipe – Deputy Mayor of London, Omar El Ali – student, Zac Richardson – Director of New Infrastructure for National Grid and Merve Demirci- student.

Story by Joseph Kelly, pic coutesy National Grid

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