Olivia Burley, from Dunfermline, is determined to build herself a career in Engineering and Energy. As a female Modern Apprentice in this male-dominated STEM industry, Olivia feels strongly that she should use her experience to inform and encourage other females to consider a career in STEM subjects – Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths.
Like a lot of people when they’re still at or just leaving school, Olivia wasn’t sure what she wanted to do in the future. But she did enjoy Design and Manufacture at school, as well as learning theory alongside practical skills.
“I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do when I left school,” explained Olivia, “So when I learned of the Shell ‘Girls in Energy’ School College Partnership course, I was enthusiastic to participate and see if a career in the engineering industry was for me.”
Girls in Energy is a one-year course for high school pupils, run by Fife College in partnership with energy giants Shell, and Fife Council. The course has been designed to introduce young women in secondary school to the energy industry’s wealth of career opportunities and the benefit of STEM subjects more generally.
Many people think that a job in the energy industry means working on a platform in the middle of the North Sea. Girls in Energy helps students to rethink these preconceptions and show them the huge range of different careers available both offshore and onshore all over the world.
Olivia felt her time on the course was worthwhile; "I thoroughly enjoyed the course,” she said, “The work we did was at a level that meant all the girls could understand what was being explained and were able to understand the different concepts.
“My favourite aspect was the practical activities as this was my first real flavour of the kind of work involved in the engineering industry, like soldering, working to drawings and circuit diagrams, and using machinery.”
Spurred on by this positive introduction to the industry, Olivia is now a Manufacturing Apprentice with Leonardo, a global high-tech company and one of the key players in Aerospace, Defence and Security.
And Olivia credits Girls in Energy with opening her eyes to an industry she now loves. “Girls in Energy helped me to make a decision on what career path I wanted to take and prepared me for the work that I would be doing during my apprenticeship. I really enjoy my job and love getting to see the different departments and types of engineering that goes into the work we do.
"I think the course is a good way to encourage females to pursue a career in the engineering industry, but it’s also an excellent opportunity to prepare them for life after school. I think it’s a great way to show girls engineering isn’t always dirty work as it is stereotypically made out to be, and it gives you a completely different perspective on the engineering industry as a whole.”
Olivia is keen to use her successful transition from a school pupil without a clear path to a career in mind to a driven Modern Apprentice with a world-leading company to encourage other young people to enter STEM-related study and employment.
"I am keen to encourage young people to follow the apprenticeship route that I have taken, and in particular encourage females into the engineering industry – to break the stereotype of engineering always being dirty work and to reduce the gender inequality between men and woman that exists in engineering today.”
Engineering is just one if the rewarding and exciting career sectors open to those with good STEM skills and qualifications.
The world continues to become more and more technologically driven. More people are using computers, more processes are being mechanised, and more products are being based on intelligent, intuitive systems.
This is why the world needs more and more technologists and engineers. And these people need to have good STEM skills.
Find out more about a career in Science, Engineering and Energy, Computing and Digital Technologies, Built Environment, or Maths, as well as the skills and qualifications you’ll need to get your dream job, here.