Welsh Government will support and extend the Ford Saturday Club in South Wales.
Prof Julie Williams, Chief Scientific Officer Welsh Government, announced the decision to back the club at Waterton Centre, Bridgend for the next three years when presenting this autumn’s students’ awards.
It means the club which has been running since 1996 and has been increased to meet demand with two groups each year, can also expand from the current 24 young people to 32 and its protected until the end of the decade.
Over the last 20 years, 28 clubs have operated at Waterton, giving a grounding in mechanical engineering, electrical circuits and computer controlled pneumatics to over 670 young people aged 14 to 16.
It is massively oversubscribed each year and attracts students from all over South Wales who voluntarily give up 12 Saturday mornings for the course. Welsh Government wants to see the concept extended to parts of Mid and West Wales.
In recent years there has been a drive to interest more girls in engineering and the announcement last night will increase opportunities for them to gain experience with funding through Welsh Government’s equality and diversity programme.
Before handing out graduation certificates recognised by the CREST programme and which can go into the students’ portfolios for job applications, Prof Williams said she had been very impressed.
“What you have done is at the heart of STEM subjects which demand enthusiasm and problem solving and working in groups to achieve a goal,” said Prof Williams.
The CSO added that Welsh Government valued its scientists and researchers and these individuals are punching above their weight in a variety of subjects and technologies around the world. This is reflected in the fact that more scientists and researchers want to come to Wales to develop and learn, she told the students.
Prof Williams concluded by telling the audience and representatives from Ford and Control 2K who run the club, “Cabinet Secretary Mr Ken Skates has today approved funding for the Saturday Club for the next three years, which means it will be able to carry on and also offer places to 32 students at a time.”
Assisting in the presentations was Richard Whitelock, Engineering Manager at BEP, and also a Saturday Club student when Ford backed the first course at Swansea in 1993.
“I was just a schoolboy then like you are now, but it fired my enthusiasm for engineering and I was determined to get an apprenticeship, which I did with Ford, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my career,” he told the students and family members.
Saturday Club consultant Martin Blamey added that the students would leave the course better prepared for further education and work and pointed out that employers could look at the CREST certificates and know they had potential employees with a real enthusiasm for engineering.
Students who attended the Autumn 2016 course were:
Teigan Blanch, Megan Austin, Daniel Sironami, Alexander Long, Joshua Hutchings, Mateuz Zielinski, Jacob Cooke, Ben Hodgson, Penny Weir, Jakeb Bull, Ellie-May Buffey, Daniel Keohane, Dewi Ward, Ronal Williams, Lewis Blake, Rya Morgan, Alice Smith, Joya Sims, Jonathan Saunders, Ben Sullivan, Rhys Jones, Cameron Fisher, james Gerrard Gates and Llewellyn Thomas.
The instructors were: Rob Wilson, Dave May and Sukhvinder Bhullar.
Image by Tim Dickeson