A company like Johnson Matthey needs to ensure that its workforce remains sustainable, with a new generation of scientists being educated to take on the roles that keep the speciality chemicals industry vibrant...
Top quality scientists play a key role in the company's R&D departments all around the world, so it makes sense that the flagship theme of the Johnson Matthey's community investment policy is 'promoting science education'. This takes a number of forms: working with local schools, pupil visits to company sites, charity partnerships with science education organisations and more. One example of involvement in the local community is the Future Scientist Programme which aims to inspire prospective scientists.
But it is just as important to reach teachers themselves. Talk to keen scientists about what inspired them to pursue a scientific career and a large number will tell you how they were strongly influenced by having such a great teacher at school.
One inspirational teacher has a positive impact on many pupils. Johnson Matthey recognised that supporting science teachers could generate a 'ripple effect' to enthuse a wider number of students than by supporting programmes that target students directly. Representatives of the company met up with staff from the Science Museum, in London, to look at sponsorship opportunities and identified Teacher Zone @ Lates as a valuable project that has wide repercussions in science teaching. In 2012/13, Johnson Matthey acted as sponsor to the Teacher Zone series.
The Teacher Zone @ Lates is a series of gatherings organised by the Science Museum. Here, science teachers from around the UK can attend 'bite size learning' training sessions, hear talks, watch demonstrations and learn about the resources that the Museum offers to teachers. Teachers can experience the buzz of science in the company of their peers, and return refreshed, with new ideas, to the classroom.
These events are well received. "Just great surroundings", "one of the best events I've been to" and "I'm going to do it again – regularly" were among the comments from science teachers who had attended a session.
This enthusiasm is then carried back into the classroom and cascades down to the school students themselves, helping to buck the trend of a declining interest in science. Johnson Matthey also sponsored the production of science packs – a form of teaching aid – which teachers can use in the classroom to bring science to life.
In this way, the company shows its commitment to being a responsible business within society. Sponsorship creates good will and enhances company reputation – and, most importantly, helps to build the next generation of scientists.