How can young people be encouraged to take up a career in science? I went to last week’s Westminster Education Forum seminar to find out what’s being done.
Diana Garnham, Group Chair of the Science for Careers Expert Group, talked about how demand for technician-level careers in science and engineering isn’t being met. STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers advice can focus too narrowly on graduate careers, neglecting people who might otherwise be inspired to get involved at technician-level.
One of the Group’s key goals in its ‘Science for Careers’ report is to increase entry to technician careers. It’s important, in the spirit of science for all, that advice and guidance addresses the possibilities that exist at all progression points.
There are now around 26,000 STEM ambassadors who will visit schools with the aim of engaging young people. Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, and co-ordinated by STEMNET, the scheme looks like an excellent opportunity to inspire pupils. The ambassadors should challenge stereotypes – 43% of them are women, and STEMNET says that black and minority ethnic groups are well represented.
I hope that visits take place in the context of planned IAG that’s embedded in the science curriculum; one-off visits, even once a term, will struggle to introduce pupils to the wide range of available careers.