A new campaign has been launched to boost participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the ‘STEM’ subjects) in English schools and in school across the UK. The government has welcomed over 170 leading businesses and institutions offering over 2,000 jobs and apprenticeships under this campaign.
The Your Life campaign was first launched by George Osborne (the Chancellor of the Exchequer) and ever since many leading organisations and entrepreneurs have also decided to take part. Over 170 businesses, universities, schools and professional organisations have committed to a range of actions to increase participation in the campaign.
Organisations such as Google, Microsoft, BSkyB and the Royal Academy of Engineering have pledged to do more to highlight the career opportunities open to those studying STEM subjects, committing to creating over 2,000 new entry level positions including apprenticeships, graduate jobs and paid work experience posts.
Specifically, pledges include L’Oreal, who will commit to £155,000 in fellowships and support for female scientists for the next two years. In addition to this Airbus will commit to recruiting circa 25 percent of the female engineers as a priority for this year.
The Perkins Report was published last year by Chief Scientific Advisor at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills. It has called on government to inspire more young people to take up engineering. This is because it has identified many industry misconceptions, which deterred young people from pursuing careers in certain fields.
Statistics show the huge importance and value of the sciences, mathematics, engineering and technology for young people’s career earning prospects, and for the UK economy. Science has become increasingly important across all sectors of the UK economy with 5.8 million people working in specific fields. That’s 20 percent of the UK’s workforce, and this percentage is expected to rise to 7.1 million by 2030.
On average, students who take A level mathematics earn up to 10 percent more than similarly skilled workers who do not have the qualification. Science and engineering degrees also lead to very high earnings; those working in science or technological careers are paid, on average, 19 percent more than other jobs.
Edwina Dunn, who co-created the Tesco Clubcard, and an independent board of eight entrepreneurs and advocates, will spearhead this campaign. They aim to transform the way young people think about mathematics and physics and the careers to which they lead.
George Osborne speaking on the matter said, “Backing growth in sectors such as science, tech and engineering are part of our long term plan to deliver economic security and sustainable growth for a more resilient economy. This campaign, which brings together some of Britain’s best businesses, institutions and government, will help inspire young people into jobs in these exciting sectors that are essential to our economic prosperity.”
In addition to this campaign, top firms including Barclays, Tata Consulting and GlaxoSmithKline are also sponsoring a new scheme called ‘Maths and Physics Chairs’, to recruit post-doctoral graduates to become science and mathematics teachers injecting top-level expertise into schools with lower progression in these topics.
Despite recent progress and growing numbers of young people taking GCSE physics and A-level mathematics, at age 16 there is a steep decrease; in physics the number falls from around 150,000 to 32,000 including just 7,000 girls choosing to study the subject.
The Education Minister Elizabeth Truss said, “Rising numbers of people are taking mathematics and physics A-levels, however it is still very low. Too many teenagers, especially girls, should realise that mathematics and physics get you everywhere. They have the highest earnings and can open doors to careers in business, journalism, technology, and engineering in fact anything you can probably think of.”
Also, a new publicity drive led by successful British entrepreneurs will be launched in September 2014 to change the way 14-16 year olds think about science and technology, and to encourage more to pursue these subjects a career. These entrepreneurs will help develop an advertising campaign to inform young people about the earning power and wide range of careers available to science, mathematics and technology graduates.
What other ideas could be introduced to encourage more young people to study science, technology, engineering and mathematics?