Where did your love of tech STEM from?
One of our Ninjas, Ella, is on her way to becoming a STEM Ambassador. Wanting to play her part in the UK’s digital revolution, she is pledging her time to help shape the next generation of techies!
You may know already that there’s a huge gap in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills pipeline; maybe you’ve seen or experienced it yourself. It’s been said that the UK will require almost 1.3 million STEM professionals by 2020, however universities and colleges currently only see around 71,000 young people graduate in STEM subjects. Not only that, but the number of young people from under-represented groups such as ethnic minorities, women and people from low-income backgrounds that are engaging in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is in fact decreasing, meaning less diversity in the STEM workplace and a bias in opportunity – only 17% of employees in the UK technology sector are women, for example.
But there is hope! The number of young people engaging with STEM subjects at A-Level and Degree-level has increased in the last years. As the digital economy grows, STEM skills and professionals will be needed more than ever! As TechUK’s Policy Manager Doniya Soni said:
“The digital skills gap is one of the most urgent policy issues the UK is facing today, so it is encouraging to see an overall increase in the number of students taking computing this year. The tech sector is the fastest growing, most exciting part of the economy and is creating the industries of the future, so all those celebrating their results today should be looking at how they can be part of that digital revolution.”
It appears that an understanding and passion for such careers is on the rise. This is largely due to initiatives such as the STEM Ambassador scheme, which aims to fill the skills gap by putting the practical side of learning back into schools and young people’s lives, as well as supporting teachers to advise young people on STEM apprenticeships and career paths (especially considering 82% of teachers believe they lack the knowledge to do so).
So, I was really looking forward to attending the STEMSussex induction afternoon this week to find out more about what it means to be a STEM Ambassador.
I’ll be in great company joining 33,000 other volunteers across the UK by getting involved in STEM-based educational activities that benefit young people aged 5-19. These activities range from being classroom-based or at after-school clubs to speaking at careers talks or attending speed networking events. Either way, it’s a great chance for me to share my experiences as a recent graduate (in the social sciences, as it happens) and working in digital tech.
As part of the 2-hour induction, we split into two groups and were tasked to build the tallest and strongest tower out of dry spaghetti and marshmallows! I was already on the backfoot being against a team of 4 civil engineers! But if I do say so myself our team’s finished product was something to be proud of.
We were asked, is this an activity that a young person would enjoy? What would it teach them? Aside from STEM-skills, it can teach (me, at least) the self-control to not eat the marshmallows… But in all seriousness, I felt this task unlocked my inner child and gave me ideas to bring to my own volunteering sessions at MakerClub. It also helped me and those around me realise, that in order to get kids and young people involved in STEM subjects we need to think outside the box. Using your often-neglected imagination, intrigue and some everyday materials we created a tower that was tall and sturdy…plus we had fun in the process. Perhaps this exercise alone would peak the curiosity of a young person enough to guide them toward a career in a STEM subject.
So often the career advice given to young people is ‘do what you love’, well I’m excited about the prospect of being part of the movement to get young people to love STEM!