Unemployed young people create battling bots

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust, global technology firm ARM and TV show Robot Wars teamed up to offer unemployed young people in Cambridge an insight into the world of robotics. The Get Started with Robotics course forms part of The Prince’s Trust’s commitment to developing STEM skills among young people. As well as inspiring young people to learn about technology and engineering, the course helped them gain the confidence and skills to find work.

The programme focused on getting young people to think about how to build and control robots, culminating in a sci-fi style robot combat challenge. In true Robot Wars fashion, the youngsters worked in teams to battle for the title of champion.

In addition, participants were given help with CV writing, advice on how to apply for jobs and interview techniques. They will all get three months post-programme support to help them move into employment, further education or training.

Gary Chappel, aged 18, left school two years ago with a strong interest in engineering but hasn’t been able to find a job.

He says, “I’d been spending so much time applying for jobs and not really getting anywhere. Then I saw an advert for The Prince’s Trust course and I thought it might help me. I was a big fan of Robot Wars on TV and I imagined the course would be interesting, but it was even better than I thought! I learnt so much during the week, and it really inspired me to work in engineering. It is every kid’s dream to make robots! Now I’m focused on the future and achieving my goals.”

As a result of the programme, Gary is now applying for apprenticeships in engineering and electrics. John Findlay, owner of Roaming Robots, the company behind Robot Wars who helped deliver the course, was so impressed by Gary that he has offered him a volunteering role to help set up live shows.

“Building a robot and pitching it against rival machines is a fun way of engaging young people and it might just ignite their passion for technology,” said Jennifer Duvalier, executive vice president of People, ARM. “Our high tech centres are all expanding and that’s opening up career opportunities for young people from all backgrounds. The Prince’s Trust course provides a taste for what is possible and by getting creative with coding and battling bots the students might be on the verge of a new and rewarding future.”

John O’Reilly, Central England Director for The Prince’s Trust said, “Research by The Prince’s Trust and HSBC has shown that the science, technology and engineering sectors are facing a skills crisis where there are not enough qualified people to take up the available  jobs. This is a tragedy when there are hundreds of thousands of young people desperate to find work. Thanks to support from organisations such as ARM, we are able to equip the next generation with the skills required to secure work and away from the frustration and misery of unemployment.”

Fifteen ARM people supported the delivery of the Cambridge course, including the development of a robotics programming session. One of ARM’s Graduate engineers also gave an inspirational talk about his career journey and current role at the company.

In 2013, The Prince’s Trust launched an education initiative aimed at inspiring and engaging young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The project is being run in partnership with the Science Museum and schools across the country and was launched with help from musician and philanthropist will.i.am.

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people gain the skills and confidence to find work. Three in four young people helped by the charity move into work, education or training. To find out more visit www.princes-trust.org.uk

For further press information please contact:

Harry Shepherd at harry.shepherd@princes-trust.org.uk or call 020 7543 7344

About The Prince’s Trust

Youth charity The Prince’s Trust helps disadvantaged young people to get their lives on track. It supports 13 to 30 year-olds who are unemployed and those struggling at school and at risk of exclusion. Many of the young people helped by The Prince’s Trust are in or leaving care, facing issues such as homelessness or mental health problems, or they have been in trouble with the law. The Trust’s programmes give vulnerable young people the practical and financial support needed to stabilise their lives, helping develop self-esteem and skills for work. Three in four young people supported by The Prince’s Trust move into work, education or training. The Prince of Wales’s charity has helped 750,000 young people since 1976 and supports over 100 more each day. Further information about The Prince’s Trust is available at princes-trust.org.uk or on 0800 842 842.