SFI outlines three-year second level STEM strategy

Pictured: Clare hurler and SFI Futures ambassador Shane O’Donnell, Minsiter for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton and Dr Ruth Freeman SFI

22 April 2014

Science Foundation Ireland is tackling the talent gap in science, technology engineering, and maths (STEM) through a three-year programme of activities for secondary school students with input from government, academia, educators and industry.

Smart Futures aims to deliver a 10% increase in the uptake of STEM subjects at second and third level by 2016.

Launching the strategy, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton said: “The issue that I encounter most frequently in the boardrooms of multinational companies considering creating jobs in Ireland is talent. Equally, having access to skilled and qualified workers is hugely important for Irish companies looking to expand. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics are skills and qualifications that are necessary for young job-seekers for so many of the new jobs that the economy is creating. Today, supported by my Department, SFI is outlining its three-year plan to provide more graduates in these areas. I am convinced that with proper implementation of this plan, the science, technology, engineering and maths students of the future can play a crucial role in developing the sustainable growing economy of the future in Ireland.”

Smart Futures promises to attain its target through building a database of volunteers from industry and SFI research centres willing to deliver career advice to secondary school students; give  industry opportunities to participate in student outreach activities; highlight career opportunities in industry; support students and parents in decision making related to STEM careers and study;  and monitor targets for participation by industry, students and schools, including an increase in the number of career roadshows.

Dr Ruth Freeman, director of strategy and communications at SFI, said: “Last year, Smart Futures working with our partners Engineers Ireland’s STEPS programme, PharmaChem Ireland, the Royal Society of Chemistry, ICT Ireland and the Institute of Physics and individual companies engaged with approximately 28,000 students across the country, through STEM careers outreach.

“The success of this strategy will be determined by the support of industry in growing a strong base of volunteers to deliver STEM career talks in schools. I would encourage industry to get actively involved and benefit from the training on offer for their employees, and proactively work to ensure a steady pipeline of STEM graduates for the future.”

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