Supporting STEM subjects
STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and maths - subjects that are becoming increasingly relevant and necessary in today's workplace.
The Government has created a STEM agenda, which contains a series of initiatives geared towards creating a strong supply of scientists, engineers and technologists. The aim is to meet the increasing demands of the STEM sector, which is essential for developing the UK economy.
The agenda aims for schools and colleges to capture the imagination of young people and make sure that school leavers are scientifically learned citizens, who are capable in their use of information and communication technology (ICT) and functional in mathematics. There are national targets for the proportion of students achieving Level 5 or above in ICT, maths and science tests at age 14, as well as targets for the take up of A levels in chemistry, maths and physics.
How employers can help to support STEM education1
- Employers can help teachers to design a STEM curriculum that fits their local needs, with respect to jobs in the local area.
- Schools and colleges can see real benefits in drawing on employer input in the design and delivery of the STEM curriculum, because the content becomes relevant and exciting when it relates to the real world.
- Employees can become STEM Ambassadors. Ambassadors motivate students in learning STEM subjects and encourage them to understand the benefits of doing so. They can also become involved in various projects, such as delivering careers talks, acting as mentors to students, and assisting with science and engineering clubs.
Why should employers get involved?
In 2008, a survey by the Confederation of British Industry reported that:
- Nine out of ten organisations employ STEM-skilled people. Many employers need highly numerate and analytical STEM-skilled people for financial positions in their organisations.
- Forty percent of employers across all sectors need STEM-skilled people to design and innovate new products and services.
- Nearly a quarter of employers value STEM skills in sales and marketing roles.
Yet there are clear indications that STEM education needs to be improved for employers to benefit:
- Six out of ten employers are having difficulty recruiting STEM-skilled individuals.
- Over 40% of employers find that the STEM graduates who they employ lack the right skills.
- Larger employers are now thinking internationally when recruiting STEM-skilled employees. Over a third recruit from India and a quarter recruit from China.
It is more important than ever before for students to receive relevant STEM education in order to help sustain the UK's future economy.
Benefits for employers in supporting the STEM agenda:
- Career development of employees.
- Increased profile in the community.
- Raised interest among future generations as potential employees in the sector.
- A better understanding of the education system.
- Fresh ideas and viwes through the original thinking of young people.
- Visit the STEMNET website to find out about all the different ways that you can help with contributing ideas. STEMNET works with partners to ensure that more young people in the UK choose to enter careers related to science, technology, engineering and mathematics at all levels, and that future generations are properly informed about the science and technology that surrounds them.
- Register an employee to become a STEM Ambassador.
- Find out more about the new Diplomas in Engineering and Science.
- Visit the Take action section on this site, for more information on what to do next.
- For more information on the work of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills in developing a world class UK research base, see www.dius.gov.uk/science.
IT Ambassadors has been set up to excite young people about the potential of technology, and to give them a better understanding of the creativity of an IT career. IT Ambassadors is a partner scheme to STEM Ambassadors.
More than 40 guides are available to support ambassadors' work, ranging from template presentations and case studies to activity suggestions and classroom resources. Companies such as BT, IBM and Infosys are already supporting the programme.
For more information visit: www.e-skills.com/itambassadors
EDT is an independent registered charity, running schemes to inspire and motivate young people to choose a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
To view their range of programmes visit: www.etrust.org.uk
Helping STEM employers engage with schools and colleges.
A quick guide for STEM (2010)
A quick reference guide for STEM work experience.
Explore the possibilities (2010)
Top 10 list of how to encourage an interest in STEM.
Useful STEM related sites
Institution of Civil Engineers
Centre for Science Education
Information and educational resources linked to biology careers.
Institute of Physics
London Engineering Project
Royal Society of Chemistry
More Maths Grads
Architects for Change
Design and technology association
1Information on this page has been adapted from the STEMNET website: www.stemnet.org.uk.