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Our Belfast-based 'Hive Academy' promotes STEM subjects to school children

Setting the scene

It’s widely acknowledged that there’s a war for talent, particularly for technology apprentices and graduates. At PwC we recognise our need for more STEM apprentices and graduates to help keep our business growing, so we’re acknowledging the part we need to play to help create these roles.

A March 2017 report from student careers app, Debut, found that almost half (46%) of all 16 year-old-plus females considered a STEM career while at school, but only 13% made it happen. In order to change things, 31% of girls said that offering STEM careers education was needed and 23% said that learning STEM subjects needed to be more interesting.

And the statistics for boys aren't much better.

At our last Hive Hackers awards ceremony we asked the audience:

Q: "What do you think we do here in PwC?"
A: "Code", "Design apps", "Cyber / internet security"

What we did

We wanted to engage with schools to promote apprenticeships as well as PwC as an ethical and preferred employer. And we wanted to reflect our ‘purpose’ agenda - to be more integrated in our communities, to inform the debate and lead with practical solutions that solve societal problems, to drive stakeholder engagement and to create positive community and stakeholder sentiment.

So at PwC Belfast we've created the ‘Hive’ - our custom built collaborative space that helps our clients to understand the art of the possible, and deliver experiences that engage their stakeholders. Our ‘Hive Academy’ has been created to generate interest and real engagement in STEM subjects among children across Northern Ireland. PwC ‘Hive Hackers’ engage with six to 11 year olds and teachers at primary schools across the region to teach coding and technology, to the point where schools can design and code their own games. And our Hive ‘Tech Academy’ works with 11 to 14 year olds on STEM subjects to design and develop their own apps. Because we’re emphasising the purpose of app development, we’re also teaching basic business and financial skills.

The programmes culminate in a finale in our office, where up to 90 children are awarded medals and certificates and compete in a ‘Dragon's Den’ to showcase the application and development of their apps.

Making a difference

By engaging directly with schools and communities, our ‘Hive Academy’ showcases our technology credentials and brings our people into direct contact with a talent pipeline which may not have previously considered STEM careers. This is a long-term process but, in the short term, we’re seeing community engagement and parent/teacher support, together with media coverage and the increased profile of our technical expertise which goes with that.

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