Race Equality Awards 2016 - Future Workforce - Shell

BAME Work Experience Programme

Shell sees a diverse workforce as a competitive advantage that mirrors the diversity of its customers and the communities in which it operates. The BAME Work Experience Programme directly addresses the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) talent pipeline shortage in the UK (not necessarily in Shell), by creating more realistic employability opportunities through experience gained on relevant work placements.

Shell has established long-term relationships with schools in communities local to its offices and welcomes approximately 30-50 of their BAME students every summer to experience what it is like to work at Shell over a one, two or three week placement.

Recognising the under-representation of BAME employees in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) careers, the Shell African Network which operates the programme, more closely aligned the 2015 programme with the organisation’s own focus on STEM.

The aims were to:

  • Identify high-potential BAME students particularly from underprivileged backgrounds with or without an interest in STEM subjects to provide them with practical, real-life work experiences within Shell, a multinational organisation
  • Encourage a higher volume and standard of applications for Shell’s paid Summer Internship and Graduate opportunities from BAME students
  • Increase two-way awareness of Shell as an employer and issues faced by BAME students in accessing higher education and the higher-skilled employment market, in particular in STEM areas

Shell UK’s foremost business leader Erik Bonino, UK Country Chairman, personally supports the initiative, together with one of the top Legal Counsels in Shell, Martin Bambridge, who is a key Senior Sponsor of the Shell African Network.

By tailoring the placements to build soft and hard skills, Shell ensures a rounded experience that inspires both students and their placement managers to learn from each other. In 2015, the programme’s placements were tailored around STEM, with senior and middle managers working in these areas volunteering to sponsor and mentor students.

Examples of activities the students undertake include:

  • Workshop activity - students had to imagine what a petrol station might look like in 2050, and what challenges and innovations Shell might be faced with then. They then pitched their ideas to senior leaders 
  • Access to technical staff - given the limited number of technical opportunities in London (for example, engineering, offshore locations such as oil rigs), Shell utilised telepresence and online meetings with colleagues in offshore locations. This ensured exposure to oil platform engineers, scientists and geophysicists  
  • Engineers and scientists shared photos and personal experiences with the students. This brought their career stories to life, emphasising their academic backgrounds and their career journeys to date, thus motivating and inspiring the students


This experience of being on the programme has raised students’ aspirations to attend university and particularly study STEM subjects. An estimated 50% of penultimate year university students go on from the work placement programme to focus on securing internships at FTSE 100 companies.