The Catapult understands the challenges of attracting, training and retaining the talent required to keep UK companies at the forefront of product development.

The skills pipeline starts with early engagement, fostering interest in STEM subjects at school, followed by well-structured career pathways, citing role models that appeal to candidates from a diverse range of backgrounds.

The Catapult has taken an early lead, introducing training kits to local schools to highlight opportunities within the regional cluster in South Wales. We are supporting Teen Tech in Cardiff, showing local teenagers the range of STEM opportunities on their doorstep. Established by Maggie Philbin OBE in 2008, Teen Tech is an award-winning charity with a track record of building momentum in STEM subjects across the UK.

As part of our work highlighting excellent career prospects, the Catapult has explored ways to attract a more diverse range of candidates to the industry. Catapult HR Director, Clare Gunning, interviewed highly successful women CEOs, discussing factors affecting the career paths of women in engineering. Overcoming gender-bias hurdles in their early careers, these CEOs are highly respected role models inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Our skills initiatives are brought together under a new Skills Academy, combining our deep industry knowledge, our national reach and our passion for compound semiconductors. The Skills Academy will help to create the skill set for the compound semiconductor technologies of the future. It works across the education system from school students, through to post-graduates and engineers working in the electronics industry. 

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDT)

In addition to promoting early-stage STEM subjects, the Catapult supports career pathways through to post-doctoral level. The 2018 skills survey, published by the Electronics Skills Foundation, identified a pressing need for higher educational qualifications by UK companies. In response, the Catapult supported the 2019 formation of a Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in compound semiconductors at Cardiff University, sponsoring a cohort of PhD students.

Working on cutting edge research, the PhD students spend time at the university, and complete their PhD studies at the Catapult, creating a highly sought-after qualification that combines academic rigour with industrial experience. The Catapult is working on similar programmes with Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield universities.

STEM ambassadors

The Catapult actively promotes career opportunities within the compound semiconductor industry. Almost one third of the Catapult team are STEM Ambassadors, and they volunteer to motivate the younger generation, highlighting career pathways in either science, technology, engineering or mathematics. Our ambassadors bring these subjects to life, encouraging engagement through a range of hands-on activities.

In response to the relatively low uptake of women in some STEM subjects, the Catapult is developing lesson plans to raise awareness in schools. These lesson plans highlight the use of compound semiconductors in blood oximetry, appealing to students who tend to be drawn to bio-sciences. Our outreach activities have been welcomed by local schools, designing lessons around the starter kit.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership

Over the past 40 years, KTPs have become a well-established mechanism for transferring knowledge, from a ‘knowledge base’, such as a university, to a business via a recent graduate. As the first Catapult to be awarded ‘knowledge base’ status by Innovate UK, the Catapult has already identified several KTP candidates to transfer technology in areas that include the internet of things, human machine interaction and solar energy harvesting.

Scholarships

As members of the UKESF Scholarships Scheme, we support electronics undergraduates with a host of benefits including an annual bursary and paid summer work placements together with mentoring and the opportunity to network with industry professionals. Interviews for the first cohort of five scholars are now complete and we look forward to working with them.

  • I’m really delighted that the CSA Catapult have joined our UKESF Scholarship Scheme. They are a really progressive organisation working on interesting projects and cutting-edge technologies; they will provide fantastic opportunities for undergraduates. For the Catapult, joining our Scholarship Scheme is a great way of, not only, connecting with students but raising awareness and generating interest in compound semiconductors at universities.

    Stew Edmondson

    CEO of UK Electronics Skills Foundation

Maximising outreach

In a relatively short space of time, we have we have delivered high quality webinars to over 700 delegates, providing informative content on subjects that include funding opportunities, technical papers and roundtable discussions. We anticipate further online content delivery to maximise outreach and improve accessibility to our client base here.