Driving diversity in STEM careers for a better future
The Johnson & Johnson STEM Scholars Programme has been specifically created to support Black students in London studying STEM in further education. It is aimed at those who have the potential to excel in a career in STEM but need better access or knowledge of routes into their chosen career.
One of the goals of the programme is to help nurture a more diverse healthcare workforce and ensure that all young people have equal opportunity to pursue a career in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
The Educational Outcomes of Black Pupils and Students (House of Commons 2020 briefing paper) showed that in England, young people from Black ethnic groups are less likely to obtain high grades, enter ‘prestigious’ universities, end up in a ‘highly-skilled’ job, study further, or have career satisfaction, and this programme aims to help address that inequity.
This is a 5-year programme championed by Johnson & Johnson Innovation. It will support 25 selected London-based school students currently in Year 12 for two years, and a cohort of these students for a further three years, including a paid internship, during their time at university.
As part of the programme, each student has been matched with a Johnson & Johnson mentor, who will support them on their STEM Scholar journey and guide them on any challenges they may face.
Since January 2022, the students have taken part in three virtual monthly workshops to build their understanding of the healthcare industry and STEM careers, which will provide them with the knowledge, tools and access they need to pursue their chosen career.
There are such a variety of different career experiences across Johnson & Johnson that build on STEM training. I believe these talented STEM students should have every opportunity to excel in their chosen field, and we hope by giving them mentoring and work experience it will help them to build the awareness of potential opportunities, areas of interest and personal networks that can help propel their success!
In April and May we welcomed the first cohort of STEM Scholars students into the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre in London for in-person workshops.
The first session was set up to provide insight and inspiration for STEM careers in medicine and engineering, two specific paths the students have the most passion to follow.
One of the guest speakers was our Programme Ambassador, George Imafidon, Performance Engineer @Team X44 and CEO @Motivez who shared the story of his personal journey from school. In the second session, we focused on mental health in preparation for managing anxiety during the upcoming exam period.
In July, the students took part in two work experience events, in order to find out more about J&J and STEM careers
The best thing about the programme was speaking to various people with a high level of expertise in their area of work and getting valuable advice that will benefit me in my future career.
The work experience was generously supported by more than 60 Johnson & Johnson volunteers from all sectors as well as external speakers. The students were primarily based at the Johnson & Johnson Innovation Centre in London. However, students also had the opportunity to visit the main UK Johnson & Johnson site in High Wycombe, and others were able to participate in a virtual DePuy Synthes work experience offered by volunteers from the Leeds site. Students took part in a broad range of experiences and sessions, including hands-on demos of surgical equipment, a tour of the consumer path to purchase lab, career talks from Janssen R&D employees, and a field trip to the Royal Society summer of science exhibition.
The whole Year 1 programme has enhanced the STEM Scholars’ understanding of ‘real life’ at Johnson & Johnson and the wide range of careers available in STEM and the broader healthcare industry. The students also gained teamwork and presentation skills through training and project work, including group exercises. They all graduated at the year-end with a certificate that will be a stand-out reference for their university applications, CVs, and employment prospects in the next academic year and beyond.
Year two kicked off in September 2022, and throughout the academic year students were provided with hands-on experience and invaluable skills through workshops, work placements, paid internships at our UK locations, and mentorship by Johnson & Johnson professionals. In all, 60 company volunteers led 12 workshops and offered mentorship to the students to support and guide them on their journey. In August 2023 we celebrated the graduation of 23 students from Phase One with a ceremony held at The Royal Institution where they collected certificates and heard an inspiring talk from George Imafidon MBE, an award-winning humanitarian engineer and social impact leader from South London. Click here to watch a video of the graduation ceremony where we hear from some of the scholars and the Johnson & Johnson team involved.
At Johnson & Johnson UK, a key priority is to invest in the next generation of health care talent and to ensure that young people everywhere have the opportunity to fulfil their dreams, regardless of their ethnicity, background or circumstances. This programme will help build a more diverse talent pool for Johnson & Johnson and create a stronger and more resilient health care workforce.
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