Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) occupations are growing in line with the developing technological world – far faster than the growth of most other occupations. Those who have a degree in a STEM subject generally have a higher income than people in non-STEM careers. These people play a key role in the sustainable growth of the national economy and are a critical component of bringing more opportunities to the UK in the future. STEM studies generate critical thinkers, increase the scientific literacy of people, and develop future generations of innovative minds, based on a solid knowledge of the areas STEM covers. Most jobs of the future are likely to require a degree of knowledge in science or maths, so we need to promote a positive attitude towards these subjects in education.
What exactly is STEM?
STEM covers the areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, and it permeates into every part of our lives. Everything around us is based on science, and technology is a growing presence in every area of our daily lives. Engineering can cover the basic design and building of roads and bridges, but also considers the challenges of tackling climate change and making our homes greener for the environment. Mathematics plays a part in every occupation and activity we ever do. By encouraging students to engage with STEM and giving them opportunities to experience related concepts, more young people will develop a passion for it and find their vocation in a STEM field. A STEM-based curriculum has life situations that help a student learn, such as children’s engineering programmes that integrate multiple classes to provide some perspective on how STEM concepts relate to real life, with the aim of sparking an interest in a future career in a STEM sector. STEM activities engage hands and minds to make both maths and science interesting, helping students do more than just learn facts.
Technological innovations in the 21st century have shown themselves to be fundamentally important for the future. The benefits and challenges posed by globalisation and a knowledge-based economy demand more great minds in the future of the fields involved. If we are to succeed in these strides towards a future of information and technology, we need our future generations to have developed their capabilities in STEM far beyond what was considered necessary in the past.
Who benefits from STEM?
STEM studies can actually help to bridge the gaps between gender and ethnicities that sometimes appear in the fields of maths and science. There are already initiatives to try to increase the roles of women and ethnic minorities in STEM-related fields, but STEM studies for young people can help break traditional gender roles. To be a strong presence in the global economy, STEM studies and careers should be a national priority; every single decision made for companies and economies uses at least one aspect of STEM to understand the implications involved.
STEM studies are absolutely critical to help the UK continue as a prominent presence in the global economy. If STEM education isn’t invested in, we will see signs of the UK beginning to fall in the world rankings for scores in science and maths, and our global position will be in jeopardy. STEM studies in school are vital to spark the initial interest in the pursuit of a STEM career in students. However, the responsibility for STEM education doesn’t lie solely with teachers. Parents must also be encouraged to establish an interest in STEM studies for their children and increase the awareness and enthusiasm at home for extracurricular activities that promote the merits of STEM education.
Programmes outside of school can also be used to help children see STEM as more than just a class to be finished. Activities that demonstrate the real-life implications of STEM can provide a link between concepts covered in school to help offer a perspective of the benefits to society and the world as a whole from careers in STEM fields. Children will benefit from being able to see that the things they are learning now can have a profound impact on their own future, as well as the future of the entire world. This kind of interest can be a powerful motivator to pursue a subject that can otherwise seem to be full of concepts that appear to have no link to each other or the real world.
STEM is an enriching and meaningful group of fields that genuinely shape the world as human beings experience it. The future of society is moving away from many of the traditional trades and careers, as machines and robotics are developing to the extent that they will soon be able to perform many of the traditional jobs we once took for granted. The future is in STEM, and this needs to be conveyed to the next generation of innovators for humanity to continue its progress.