STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics and refers to any subject that falls under these four disciplines.
Inspiring young people to pursue STEM subjects beyond compulsory education and into industry is key to addressing the skills gap we're currently facing. Changes in society are driving up demand for graduates of STEM subjects, and unless we meet this demand we are at risk of restricting economic growth. A recent survey stated that 72% of all UK businesses rely on people from a STEM related background. It is predicted by 2022 that there will be a shortfall of STEM qualified employees to fulfil these positions. Consequently, it is important that we find new and interactive ways to engage students in these subjects. STEM subjects, historically, have been very male dominated. To address this the government, workplaces and educational institutes have set up a range of initiatives to increase the number of young women studying STEM based qualifications that equip them to progress in a STEM based career.
At Ashfield Girls’ High School, we actively promote STEM based subjects through a range of site excursions, interactive workshops and after school clubs by teaming up with various STEM ambassadors and organisations throughout the school year. Ashfield Girls’ High School have also worked tirelessly to produce more STEM based work placements for Year 12 pupils.
Organisations that Ashfield Girls’ High School have been involved with in the past include:
Bombardier, Thales, KAINOS, SENTINUS, Barclays, W5, Army, Greenpower racing, Belfast Hills Partnership, Eye for Education, Royal Academy of Engineers, VEX Robotics challenge, Queens University Belfast and the University of Ulster just to name a few.
Whilst science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) have a profound impact on our everyday lives, we continue to see a lack of engagement from students of all ages in these subjects. This is despite STEM subjects being considered one of the accelerating forces for future economic growth across the UK. Issues such as sustainability, managing the planet's resources and using renewable energy appropriately are all challenges that can benefit from the work of mathematicians, scientists and engineers across many disciplines.
Businesses need a workforce qualified in computational thinking and with the ability to analyse and draw conclusions from huge volumes of data. It is therefore crucial that the educational system constructs an environment that promotes these skills. As society is constantly changing, the education sector needs to be able to adapt, to effectively equip students with the skills needed to address challenges that don't yet exist, and to rise to the different learning styles of individuals.