DP World London Gateway, part of the new Thames Freeport, is the UK’s most integrated logistics hub; a sustainable, strategically-located, trade-enabling terminal on London's doorstep.
Our port offers the UK’s best tidal access, easily accessible road connections across the country, and direct national and international rail links. Our logistics hub, on the same site and only 28 miles away from Central London, offers convenient, modern warehouse space, the largest of its kind in Europe.
Our ambition is to lead the future of trade and we are proud to be at the heart of Britain's trading future. We believe in the UK and have the ambition to boost growth, support businesses, create jobs and improve living standards. As part of our global Our World, Our Future initiaive, we aim to deliver a legacy in oceans, women and education.
We are acutely aware that it is not just our fantastic location and facilities that keep our business alive and thriving. We depend on our skilled and experienced workforce who are vital to our success in a diverse range of roles across the business.
However, there is a skills shortage in the areas of logistics and IT and we have realised that there is a lack of awareness amongst parents, teachers and pupils as to the variety of interesting and rewarding jobs available in our industry. Within schools there is a low uptake of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects with significant underachievement. Our business relies on future talent, but many pupils don’t consider jobs in this industry.
We decided to address this by supporting the Enthuse Partnerships, working alongside two primary and four secondary schools to improve participation in STEM subjects. The scheme aims to address skills shortages that are fundamental to our industry, and spark interest and enthusiasm in pupils through inspiring teachers.
Together we aim to empower teachers to gain the knowledge and skills they need to excite and inspire STEM learning, bettering each pupil’s education and addressing the skills gap that is creating a recruitment problem.
We support the schools who work together to establish mutual aims, with the ultimate goal of motivating young people to broaden their horizons, to believe a career in this industry is achievable and interesting for them. We provide a fascinating and informative tour of our site to bring to life technology in action.
Already we are seeing encouraging results with an increased understanding of how STEM subjects can be applied in the real world and specifically to different job roles. Teachers have attended funded training and are demonstrating skills knowledge and confidence to deliver enthusiastic and high-quality teaching in STEM areas. Pupils are showing a better understanding of how STEM subjects are relevant to real, local jobs, their interest and engagement is better and they are achieving better grades.
When working alongside schools we need to be mindful of their existing heavy workload and priorities.
Identifying one leadership school allows them to take the lead in coordinating and facilitating actions and this school receives additional funding to allow teachers to spend more time on the project. This works well because they are in a much better position to understand the challenges and pressures that the teachers are facing and are well aware of the demands of the academic timetable that as a corporate business we would have struggled to appreciate. The schools set mutual aims and goals with the lead school taking responsibility for the organisation and following up with any issues. This puts the schools very much in the driving seat and gave them the opportunity to identify specific training needs and fill the skills gaps they knew were relevant.
We are aware that we are competing for the time of the teachers and the success of the scheme is dependant upon their drive to achieve the aims identified. Having had the opportunity to set the goals themselves made an important difference and where we have seen the greatest success is when the teachers return from the training sessions and enthusiastically share their findings and good practice. Funding is provided to cover a teacher from any of the six schools to attend a training session which helps to keep the momentum going and maintain consistency.
Good communication between the teachers to keep up the interest and motivation is important and it was frustrating when key staff left or moved on. We quickly realised that we needed to be flexible and accommodate changes and unexpected events as they happened, keeping in mind our final outcomes and goals.
The pandemic of course has meant unforeseen delays, but we have extended the timescale and the teachers have been fantastic in attending the training and are motivated by the progress and results that they are already seeing in their students.
Two of the schools participating in the scheme are primary schools. We have seen fantastic engagement from these schools because they can be more flexible. Although the children are younger, and it will take much longer for measurable results to be seen in areas such as recruitment, it is important to encourage a learning environment where STEM subjects are seen to be fun, interesting and achievable.
We are proud of working together to invest in our future and the support given on our sustainability journey by organisations such as Enthuse, our partner schools and Planet Mark who provide our sustainability certification. To recognise the commitment of the teachers and pupils at this difficult time, we have entered this project into the Planet Mark 2021 Awards.