Gas Networks Ireland: Primary school STEM education programmes
Business Type: Utilities
Location: Headquarters in Gasworks Road, Cork.
Offices also in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Waterford
Mission Statement: Gas Networks Ireland is committed to responsible business practices, ensuring that environmental, ethical and social principles are at the core of our business decisions and are key to our business strategy.
No. of Employees: 539
Overview of CSR Initiative:
Project team: Primary school STEM education programmes – Our Universe (2015-2018) and Energize (2018-), in partnership with Junior Achievement Ireland
Resources required: Business volunteers, funding, minimum time commitment
Challenges: Securing support from management to allow staff to volunteer during work hours, developing the new programme Energize, obtaining support from staff volunteers to teach the programmes
Benefits: Promote STEM education, which is imperative to our business; provide volunteering opportunities for our staff in a related field to their expertise
Outcome: Our new STEM programme Energize is now available to 5,000 primary school students nationwide
How was/is this initiative promoted?
Internal: Intranet, weekly internal e-zine, staff email, Annual Report, Sustainability Report
External: LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Business in the Community Ireland e-zine
Do you report on CSR in the Annual Report?
Yes, in the Ervia annual report.
CSR is also reported on in the Sustainability Report, the first of which will be launched in Q1 of 2019.
Towards Responsible Business’ Ireland’s National Plan on CSR 2017-2020 identifies 4 core dimensions of CSR – Environment, Community, Workplace and Marketplace.
• Environment - minimising negative environmental impacts
• Community - interaction with your local community partners and organisations
• Workplace - supporting and engaging with your employees
• Marketplace - interaction with your local community partners and organisations.
Please select the dimension(s) that you apply to your CSR Initiative and why?
Community – Energize, a partnership between Gas Networks Ireland and Junior Achievement Ireland, is available to primary schools in communities across Ireland, with the aim to inspire students to continue with science subjects at second level. Students are taught about forensics, renewable gas, the dangers of carbon monoxide, the properties of light, and health and wellbeing, in a fun and exciting way.
Workplace – engagement internally with staff to seek volunteers for the programme and to generate interest. Recruitment takes place each September to provide potential volunteers with information on the programme and answer any questions. Employees are also engaged through the intranet, weekly e-zine and internal email.
How has the CSR initiative benefitted your business and demonstrated a win:win in the short-term and/or long-term?
Short term: Our new STEM programme, Energize, was successfully launched in the summer of 2018, becoming available to 5,000 primary school students nationwide from September 2018. There was significant interest in delivering the programme, with 56 volunteers already teaching Energize to 1,333 students in Q4 2018. Energize has taken the place of our previous STEM programme, Our Universe, which ran from 2015-2018. The programme was taught to 15,667 students in 22 counties. A total of 631 volunteers delivered the programme from 142 organisations.
Feedback about Our Universe:
“It was a really enjoyable experience for the children. The material covered was stimulating and was delivered in a relaxed and enjoyable manner. I couldn’t recommend the programme highly enough.”
Mike White, Teacher, Faithlegg N.S., Faithlegg, Co. Waterford
“The children in my class really enjoyed the Our Universe programme as it was child centred, active and interesting. There was a nice variety of topics and the children really enjoyed the practical investigations.”
Mairead Mooney, Teacher, Collon N.S., Drogheda, Co. Louth
Long term: Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) are at the core of the Gas Networks Ireland business, but there’s a skills gap. Industry demand for STEM graduates still outstrips supply every year. Gas Networks Ireland’s long term objective in supporting STEM education is to develop students’ interest in STEM subjects, encouraging students to continue with the subject in second-level education and to pursue STEM careers.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs):
Please identify which SDG goal(s) apply to your CSR initiative. More information on The Goals can be found on www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/
SDG 4. Quality Education: The STEM programmes aim to increase the number of people with relevant STEM skills
SDG 5. Gender Equality: The STEM programmes promote equal opportunities, demonstrating the benefits of STEM subjects and STEM careers to girls and boys.
SDG 10. Reduced Inequalities: The STEM programmes promote equal opportunities for a future in STEM to all students.
What did you learn from your experience of creating and implementing a CSR initiative?
It is a good idea to pilot your initiative in advance of fully launching it to see what works and if anything does not work. This gives the opportunity to gather and consider feedback before making the programme available to a wider audience. A school local to Gas Networks Ireland’s Dublin office helpfully took part in a pilot of the Energize programme, allowing us to gauge their reaction to the new content.
What advice would you give a business starting on their CSR Journey?
Identify the key CSR areas that relate to your business and link your CSR strategy to these areas. For example, Gas Networks Ireland is a predominantly engineering-based company, so our support of STEM education and STEM initiatives is a natural fit. With renewable gas, a carbon neutral fuel, coming to the natural gas network soon, our strategy also has a biodiversity and environmental focus.
Case Study provided by Gas Networks Ireland
More information available at:https://www.gasnetworks.ie/corporate/company/our-commitment/community/education-programme/