Shaping Young Minds and Fostering Ambition

Before joining the Royal Air Force in 2000, George Slater had never left Scotland. However, during the course of a 22-year career – which all began with an apprenticeship – he would go on to visit over 20 countries.

George was selected for aircrew service on the Nimrod MR2, Hercules C130J, and Airbus A400M Atlas, post-apprenticeship. He qualified as a Rearcrew Instructor in 2014, and started volunteering as a STEM Ambassador in 2017. He now uses the knowledge, skills, and experience he acquired in the RAF to guide his delivery of aviation themed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths) engagement into schools in Cornwall.

George’s business, Soaring STEM Ltd, is an education outreach provider that builds confidence through practical activities – providing access to equipment and experiences to enhance learning opportunities.

“I launched in March 2022,” George explains, “although this coincided with plans to relocate and a change in the framework model, so I opted to take on a part-time role as Education Projects Manager with Cornwall Council to complement my work while I got things started.”

When asked about his motivation to start his own business, George’s answer is compelling, especially when one considers his own background and humble beginnings in a fishing community in north east Scotland:

“I believed that it was possible for me to make a difference, and I saw an opportunity to address a lack of enrichment opportunities faced by lots of children growing up with very little visibility of inspiring careers. I gained excellent feedback from STEM Ambassador events, and recognised that this type of opportunity often helps children who are disengaged to demonstrate what they are capable of.”

X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) first came into contact with George when he attended one of our Self-Employment Awareness workshops at Aldershot during his resettlement period. George has since joined numerous XFE networking sessions, and has attended marketing and goal setting workshops online. These events not only provide attendees with the skills and knowledge they need to start their self-employment adventures, but also facilitate access to a wider network of like-minded individuals embarking on similar journeys. This support is invaluable, especially when one is faced with challenges along the way.

“The transition from military to civilian life, coupled with a relocation from Gloucestershire to Cornwall and a need to maintain a steady income, have all taken up capacity,” says George.

“Additionally, I act as a delivery partner for the RAF Youth STEM team, and this involved a rigorous framework bidding process which took a long time. However, I have successfully bid to be part of this for five years and am now in a position to start expanding into new areas.

“It has been difficult at times to manage all my different commitments and to ensure my effort is being placed in the right areas. I attempt to manage this by setting and reviewing goals at regular intervals. I always prioritise the quality of delivery above all, and I have tended to avoid risks to ensure the reputation I am building is positively maintained.

“I value the advice and guidance received on all the XFE courses and workshops – it is always worthwhile hearing new perspectives and getting feedback or suggestions. The XFE networking events have also been great to retain contact with the military community and be inspired by my fellow veteran business owners.”

The work he does alongside his business for Cornwall Council has allowed George to work on a diverse range of educational projects. This includes being the project manager for The ASK Programme (a Department for Education funded apprenticeship programme), supporting regional delivery of FIRST Lego League, organising a youth robotics competition for Cornish Primary School children aligned to Armed Forces Day, delivering the IET Faraday Challenge to Y8 students, and much, much more. To say this keeps him busy is something of an understatement, but the work is rewarding and there is plenty of scope for growth, as George explains:

“I recognise a demand for quality enrichment and believe veterans can fill this gap. I want to expand my portfolio of projects and get to a position where I can employ fellow veterans to deliver these projects aligned to a positive military ethos.

“I love to get feedback from the teachers and students I support – it has been consistently excellent and drives me to continue delivering first-rate experiences. Since leaving the Royal Air Force, I have delivered support to more than 16000 students – from reception through to Further Education. So far, there have been 42 events delivered through my business – reaching 2565 pupils, with another 16 events secured and in planning.”

George’s journey has taken him from rural Aberdeenshire, across the globe, and on to his new home of Cornwall. He is putting his experience to work in shaping young minds and fostering ambition. Not a bad way to make a living.

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By @Cobseo 54 years ago

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