A YOUNG Minehead woman has told of how a school assembly helped change her life and led to a career working on Europe’s largest infrastructure project, right on her doorstep.

Gemma Howell, 20, was a student at West Somerset College and unsure what direction her future career lay in until Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) ambassadors from EDF visited during a Year 9 assembly.

“I had always enjoyed maths and science but did not necessarily know what career it would lead to growing up in Minehead, “ Miss Howell said.

“The ambassadors included a number of women and helped bring down a lot of pre-conceptions I had about girls getting into those sorts of careers. I was choosing my GCSE options at the time and the assembly convinced me to follow the STEM path.”

Gemma said following her GCSEs and A-levels she was encouraged to send off university applications, but the concept did not appeal to her.

“I wanted to go out and see how these things worked in the real world,” she said.

“I also did not like the idea of racking up a huge amount of debt before I started my career.”

Gemma applied for a role as a commercial apprentice with EDF to work as part of the supply chain and having been with the firm for two years, is thriving in the role and continues to study toward further qualifications.

“It was a fantastic opportunity and one I am grateful for,” Gemma said.
“Hinkley C is about much more than just keeping the lights on - it is bringing hope and opportunity to an area that is often deprived of such things.”

EDF says it aspires to create 1,000 apprenticeships over the course of Hinkley C’s construction, saying apprentices will play a key part not just in construction but also in operating and maintaining the power station during its 60-year lifespan.

An EDF spokesman said: “By working with our construction partners we are delivering education experiences to young people of all ages, encouraging them to explore the world of science, technology, engineering and maths and hopefully inspire them to enter one of the many STEM jobs available during construction of this nationally important project.”

The French energy giant has also recently launched Young HPC - a programme aimed at those aged 16-21, offering guidances and resources to find out what opportunities are available at Hinkley C and how best to take advantage of them. 

Visit edfenergy.com for more details.