NEW after school clubs have been launched to educate pupils in Pembrokeshire about the benefits of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Year nine pupils from schools across west Wales have been taking part in the Valero STEM After School Clubs, hosted respectively at Pembrokeshire College and Coleg Sir Gâr, sponsored by Valero Pembroke Refinery.

The 10-week programme at the two colleges includes sessions on Computer Assisted Design (CAD), 3D printing, electronics, virtual welding, chemistry workshops, logistics simulators and much more.

Following the sessions, both the Pembrokeshire and Carmarthenshire clubs will take part in a finals day competition to be held at the refinery in April.

Speaking at the launch of the Valero After School STEM Club, Pembrokeshire College’s Head of Engineering and Construction Ed Hornagold said: “Studying STEM and pursuing further education in science and engineering is a gateway to a wide choice of fulfilling careers.

“This new after school club partnership between Pembrokeshire College, Valero and Coleg Sir Gâr is a brilliant joint effort between education and industry to enthuse young people and hopefully kick-start a lifelong passion for STEM.”

Valero Refinery Public Affairs Manager Stephen Thornton said: “There is a wide consensus amongst employers, educators and policymakers that the Welsh economy needs to do more to develop the next generation of engineers and scientists.

“This exciting and innovative new initiative is designed to engage young people thinking about studying STEM to develop their interests further in a fun and interactive environment.

“By bringing each club to our finals day at Valero we hope that a bit of friendly competition will help make STEM accessible to all.”

Students are being encouraged to enroll in STEM courses at university as knowledge in these areas is in demand.

The UK government working to promote a higher number of young people entering these degree programmes.

Valero’s Pembroke refinery is one of the leading employers in south Wales and is one of Europe’s largest and most complex refineries.