7 ways bp is supporting early careers during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Jill Anderson

Despite COVID, bp continues to enhance young people’s employability and interest in STEM, reaching more students than ever.

When it became clear that plans for face-to-face work experience, mentoring and careers volunteering in schools could not take place because of COVID-19, bp quickly explored  how to support young people remotely.

By partnering with charities including Career Ready, Speakers for Schools and the Social Mobility Foundation, which aim to end educational inequality, the team has turned the crisis into an opportunity to reach more young people than ever before. This aligns with bp’s commitment to improving social mobility.

How is bp providing ongoing careers education support to young people during the pandemic?

One priority has been finding innovative ways to provide work experience for young people during COVID restrictions, with the aid of technology and support from staff.

1. Virtual insight placements

For example, over the summer, around 300 students who were due to be placed in bp offices, instead took part in four-day virtual insight placements.

Through live, interactive sessions on Google Classroom, in collaboration with Speakers for Schools, bp volunteers from across the company shared their knowledge of geoscience, engineering, low carbon, agility, ethics and compliance, digital careers, communication, the circular economy and procurement.

The 15- to 18-year-olds also took part in speed networking with bp graduate employees — known as challengers — attended sessions on interview and CV skills, and joined teamworking exercises and quizzes.

Going forward, we’re keen to continue offering virtual options as it helps us to reach young people all over the UK, in social mobility cold spots.

2. Virtual work experience

We plan to advertise virtual work experience opportunities on the Speakers for Schools site and expect to recruit students through there and our other charity partners, Social Mobility Foundation and Career Ready.

3. Virtual Skills Festival

In August, 60 students joined sessions from bp during Career Ready’s virtual skills festival — the charity’s first ever series of virtual events. This connected young people with a range of employers and volunteers so they could keep on developing their workplace skills and knowledge during COVID-19.

4. Virtual student mentoring with bp volunteers

In addition, through the Social Mobility Foundation, students participated in a virtual mentoring journey with bp volunteers from engineering and business roles to gain an increased understanding of their desired career and professional life,  support with university applications and skills development.

Around 40 bp employees also volunteered to answer students’ questions about coding, science and engineering careers in live, focused online chats.

Students voted Meera Sewraz and Andy L Smith from bp’s IT&S architecture team their favourite professionals in the ‘I’m a Scientist’ initiative, an online,  student-led science engagement activity where school students connect with working scientists in order to build their science capital.

5. bp lesson plans for careers leaders and teachers

Careers leaders and subject teachers can also use our lesson plans, teachers’ notes, activity sheets and other resources (themed around science, geography and business) in their physical classrooms.

6. Working with Speakers for Schools

Working with Speakers for Schools, we also enabled around 4,000 students to join virtual talks with bp speakers and senior leaders from other organisations, sharing their career stories via Teams Live. Many of these remain available for students to watch in their own time, or during careers lessons.

For example, environmental engineer Alejandra Castaño talked about the kind of work she’s involved in with bp’s carbon ambitions, while Charlotte Stacey, who headed our UK Apprenticeships Programme at the time, discussed the practicalities of apprenticeships, how they’re structured, the benefits of completing an apprenticeship and the opportunities that exist at bp.

Expanded virtual programme: bp inspire me uses the Skills Builder universal framework

Since August 2020, we have expanded our virtual programme, creating a new ‘bp inspire me’ series, working with Speakers for Schools; during these, conducted over Teams Live, different bp employees bring to life how they overcame challenges and used or developed a skill through professional or personal experience.

Using bp partner Skills Builder’s universal framework, which shows how to build essential skills at every stage of life, the ‘bp inspire me’ talks aim to help students understand the importance of these skills — which are now more crucial than ever — and relate key skills to inspirational role models.

For information about future virtual talks, we would advise careers leaders and students to follow bp on our social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter (@bp_plc / @bp_UK / @bp_Careers).

7. Home-learning materials from the bp education team

In addition to virtual offers, the bp education team has been busy creating new home-learning materials to support students, teachers and parents through these unprecedented times. This year, a record 107,000 resources have so far been downloaded — more than double the figure for the same period last year — receiving very positive feedback.

More than 3,000 parents have registered on the bp educational service site since March (compared with an average of 60 per month). Secondary resources, for students aged 11-19, include a collection of fun and creative independent science experiments using simple items from home.

Try the periodic table challenge: An interactive resource from bp for teachers and students

Periodic table challenge (11-16)

The periodic table challenge is a fun and engaging game to teach students about the periodic table, and elements and their properties. You are welcome to try it now!

About bp

Operating in 78 countries, bp delivers heat, light and mobility products and services to people around the world in ways that help to drive the transition to a lower-carbon future.

We are confident that our work with young people is making a difference. Research from the Education and Employers Taskforce shows that a young person who has four or more meaningful encounters with an employer is 25% less likely to be
unemployed or not in education or training and can earn more
during their career. The ongoing Aspires research project found
that students with low social capital stand to benefit most from
improved careers education and links between education
and employers.


These insights were brought to you by Future TalentEd magazine.


This piece was first featured in our Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Future TalentEd magazine for careers leaders, parents and students.

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